To Cllr Terry Fox, Cllr Douglas Johnson and Cllr Shaffaq Mohammed,
As you may know, Compass is a national platform to imagine and build a Good Society through collaborative politics, which campaigns for progressive alliances, participatory democracy and electoral reform.
27 local supporters of Compass from across all three of your parties came together online with the national director of Compass, Neal Lawson, last Friday.
We agreed it was important to write to you at this key stage of your negotiations about how the three progressive parties could best work together for the benefit of all the people of Sheffield in the year to come.
Some of our initial thoughts are:
- We need to act quickly given the scale of the challenges facing our city.
- We recognise that the council has been hammered by government spending cuts and centralisation. It can no longer do everything, but this is why it needs to work in partnership with the people of the city and win back their trust and confidence. The Big City Conversation last year gave a clear picture of what citizens’ priorities were.
- We believe there is hope and scope for a cross-party alliance around tackling these key issues – with a focus on the uniting crises of climate, inequality, jobs and public services offering a way to create a common project.
- Despite difficult relationships in the past, we believe there is a lot of common ground between Labour, Liberal Democrats and Greens if we can keep open minds, listen to each other and move beyond historic party boundaries. As an example, the Green City Partnership Board is working well and across party on the climate emergency.
- Cambridgeshire County Council has just published its administration agreement for NOC between Labour, Liberal Democrats and Independents. Their main priority is the climate emergency. Similar developments are happening on Oxfordshire CC and Milton Keynes Council. In Sheffield we want to see all parties agree to urgent action to implement the recommendations of the ARUP report on pathways to climate zero by 2030.
- We would urge you to publish a founding statement about the constitution or form of governance you propose to adopt in place of the cabinet system and a statement of key policy aims.
- We hope that the Council will adopt an inclusive development and design process for this new constitution, engaging with people across the city and making use of the expertise that has been developed through the referendum campaign.
- In particular, we urge you to convene a Citizens’ Assembly selected by sortition to consider the constitution and to draw up recommendations for its implementation.
- These proposals should be put to a series of local area assemblies culminating in a city-wide vote. We would welcome a meeting with you soon to discuss the best way of taking this process forwards.
- We always need to remember that there is a lot of cynicism about the council and that 66% of the electorate did not vote. We must build a city where people are proud of their council and feel that taking part in the democratic process matters to them.
We hope that all parties will feel able to move forward together in a spirit of generosity and creativity, and would be happy to offer our contribution towards that goal.
Yours in friendship,
Vivien Brown, Ian McHugh, Roy Morris, Martin Yarnit
Sheffield Compass planning group