Sheffield Council has been accused of attempting to “rein in” its Lord Mayor Magid Magid with a planned new code of conduct to ensure holders of the role “respect tradition” and “remain non-political”.
The Green Party councillor was at the centre of a row earlier this month after he elected to wear a white poppy to a Remembrance Sunday service and has previously made headlines for "banning" Donald Trump from Sheffield and unveiling a 'Sheffield Ten Commandments' poster which included the instruction 'Don't Kiss a Tory'.
But in his time in the role, Magid has become one of Sheffield's most popular and well-known politicians - recently appearing on a list of The World's Most Influential Young People in Government - and the Labour-run council has come under fire on social media for what his supporters perceive to be an attempt to restrict his influence.
Council leader Julie Dore asked the authority’s overview and scrutiny management committee to examine the guidance surrounding the role after two petitions about Magid Magid were received in October - one calling for the ‘abolition of the Lord Mayor’, which was signed by 47 people, and another requesting he was kept as Lord Mayor which was signed by 17,558 people.
The scrutiny committee has now put forward recommendations that a Lord Mayors Code of Conduct should be included in the Council’s Constitution, following consultation with Magid Magid and his predecessors in the role.
A report to be discussed at a full council meeting on Wednesday said current guidance “could be slimmed down and reviewed to reflect the 21st Century environment that Lord Mayors are operating in”.
It added: “The committee felt that as First Citizen of Sheffield, it is important that the Lord Mayor remains non-political during their term of office.
“The Committee felt that there is a need for a firmer understanding and codification of the Council‟s expectation of a Lord Mayor, including issues such as remaining non-political, attending certain events deemed important to the city, and respecting tradition whilst having the flexibility to ‘put your own stamp’ on the role.”
The committee, which reflects the political make-up of the council, made its recommendations after a meeting earlier this month attended by seven Labour councillors, three Liberal Democrats, one Green Party member and one Ukip representative.
Magid could not be reached for comment by The Yorkshire Post today.
But he has retweeted several supportive messages towards him about the issue on Twitter.
One from Areeq Chowdhury, chief executive of the WebRoots Democracy thinktank, said: “Sheffield gets a legendary Lord Mayor (probably the most well-known Mayor in the country after Sadiq Khan) and now they want to rein him in and ensure that no-one like him comes along ever again.”
Another from Mohammed Bux read: “When 47 people sign a petition against him and 17,000+ sign a petition in support of him - tree-cutting Sheffield Council shamelessly use it as a pretext to launch a scrutiny committee and ‘code of conduct’ into the city’s most famous son.”
Magid left war-torn Somalia when he was five and arrived in the UK unable to speak English. He became the 122nd Lord Mayor of Sheffield earlier this year at the age of 28 - making him the youngest person to ever hold the role.
He came into the post, which is held for a year before being passed on to another councillor, promising to do things differently.
“I hope by the fact I am a black, Muslim immigrant - everything the Daily Mail probably hates - people will look and say, ‘In Sheffield we’re proud of doing things differently and celebrating our differences,” he said at the time.
“When you’ve got the chain on, as the Lord Mayor, you are non-political. But when I haven’t got it on, I’m still going to be me, I’m not going to be silenced.”
As part of his new approach, he has appointed a Sheffield Poet Laureate, the rapper Otis Mensah, as well as bringing in magicians and performers to entertain councillors as a way of showcasing the “amazing wealth of creativity” in the city.