SHEFFIELD delivered a resounding rejection of the Prime Minister’s plans for major cities to have elected mayors, with a vote of almost two-to-one against the proposal.
In line with most other cities holding referendums, Sheffield delivered a majority against an elected mayor and did so by one of the largest margins in the country.
Of 128,638 votes cast in the city, 82,890 people – 65 per cent – voted for keeping the current leader and Cabinet system, with 44,571 – 35 per cent – voting for an elected mayor.
Leading politicians said they had detected no appetite for the change in the run-up to the referendum, along with little idea of what the new system would actually involve.
Labour council leader Julie Dore said she hoped the “No” vote in Sheffield and elsewhere would signal an end to the policy championed by David Cameron.
“In Sheffield, we took a cross-party view that an elected mayoral system was not appropriate,” she said. “There was apathy among the voters.
“People didn’t understand what they were voting for and the Government failed to inform people to help them make an informed decision.
“The only information was how an elected mayor would be elected. There was no information on their responsibilities, their powers, what extra budget they might have. If people are not aware of any added value, why would they vote for it?”
“We took a view that unlike Liverpool we weren’t going to impose the system on Sheffield. The Government imposed a referendum but we were telling them it wasn’t necessary and people didn’t want it.”
Sheffield South East Labour MP Clive Betts said there was no appetite for a system that would place too much power in one set of hands.
“If you are electing someone for four years, giving them absolute power and control, leaving councillors with no real say, it’s basically undemocratic.”
Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, Lib Dem MP for Sheffield Hallam, also revealed he voted against the mayoral system.