Sheffield Chamber of Commerce wants clear direction from council leaders as 'rainbow coalition' talks continue

Sheffield businesses say they want clear direction from the Town Hall as politicians continue talks to thrash out who will lead the city.

Labour lost control of the council in the local elections and for the past 11 days they have been in discussion with the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party about whether a coalition can be formed.

Sheffield Chamber says it will support any new leadership but politicians need to work more closely with businesses.

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View of the fountain in Sheffield's Peace Gardens with the neo-Gothic building of Sheffield Town Hall on the background. Pic: Serg Zastavkin - stock.adobe.com

Louisa Harrison-Walker, Chamber joint executive director, said: “The city faces a bright future but only if we can maintain momentum and use the election results as a springboard to be more joined up and more confident as a city.

“This is a challenging time for any city and the wider business community. While some companies have prospered during Covid-19, many have faced a difficult period.

“Recovering from the pandemic will take time, we need to protect and grow job opportunities and deal with some key questions facing the city.

“They want to see a clear strategy and priorities that the business community can get behind. Any political uncertainty only adds to the challenges of recovering from the impacts of Covid-19.

“The business community has a hugely important role to play in building that stronger economy and we want the Sheffield Chamber to be leading the way in helping to make that happen.”

Alexis Krachai, joint executive director, said the Chamber was involved in the Business Response Group during the pandemic and was working increasingly closely with organisations across the city.

“Our new Chamber Hubs are generating a lot of interest from individual businesses who want to share data and ideas about the city. More and more businesses are joining the Chamber to shape the discussions we have with the council, the Mayor and central government.

“Our job is to help politicians make the best possible decisions that will help businesses be successful and sustainable in our city. Whoever ends up in charge, we are ready to work with them to help drive Sheffield forward.”

This weekend, Labour leaders in Sheffield say they want a politically proportionate leadership and to start working in a committee system immediately, as negotiations on who will run the city council continue.

The party updated its members on the situation at the weekend following a week of talks with Sheffield Liberal Democrat and Green Party leaders over who should run the authority.

They have been discussing a way forward after Sheffield Council was pushed to no overall control at the local elections earlier this month.

Labour lost eight seats, five to the Green Party and three to the Liberal Democrats, making the overall numbers of seats 41 for Labour, 29 for the Liberal Democrats, 13 for the Green Party and one for the Conservatives.

Sheffield Labour leader Terry Fox and deputy leader Julie Grocutt said in a statement: “We believe Sheffield’s interests must always come ahead of party politics, and as the largest political grouping on the council it is incumbent on us to find a way forward.

“It is essential that as the city comes out of the pandemic, and continues to rebuild, that the council is not bogged down by political deadlock. Fundamentally we need to find a solution which puts Sheffield first and find a way of councillors pulling together for the benefit of the city.”

The pair said one of their main principles was changing the council to a committee system as soon as possible.

This follows a governance referendum which saw 64.8 per cent of voters choose to change from a strong leader and cabinet model to a modern committee system.