Report of Steering Group meeting on 22nd April 2012

The following is a Report of the Steering Group meeting held on 22nd April 2012, 3pm-5pm at the Old Queens Head, Sheffield.

The website now has details of all our activities including Steering Group meetings, the recent public meeting and links to various campaigns about May’s mayoral referendums.

The Clean Up Lobbying Meeting at Friends Meeting House: it had been a good and lively meeting, with 60 people in attendance. Vicky Seddon has produced both a report of the meeting and our submission for the consultation process.

Elected mayor: a meeting with Sheffield Star involvement has been held, and there have been some press coverage. Sheffield for Democracy is not taking a position but there is information and links on campaigns for both Yes and No campaigns on our website.

Local Government: Graham Allen’s Constitutional and Political Reform Select Committee has opened a consultation on their radical proposals, to give proper constitutional status to local authorities, and also to give them finance-raising powers. We are hoping to organise a Sheffield meeting, jointly with the City Council, in June. We have had a very positive meeting with Council Leader Julie Dore to discuss this and subsequently meetings with Council officers.

Party Funding: Labour’s leader Ed Miliband has proposed a £5,000 cap on donations, as well as a cap on spending. This is likely to kick-start the debate.

Lords Reform. Liz reported that the Select Committee was to report on the following day – 23rd April. Probable 80% – 20% split in favour of elected and appointed peers. Bishops still there but fewer. 15 year terms. There will be arguments about whether there should be a referendum.

Consultations. Neil outlined some of the issues in the light of council policies on Community Engagement/Involvement/ Empowerment and how that worked out in practice from experience of recent local consultations. Important that more effort is made from officers and councillors to get local people discussing issues given a residue of apathy and disillusion. A piece on the website would be useful.

Next Meeting: 20th May in the function room of the Old Queens Head public house next to Sheffield Interchange at 3 pm. The meeting is open to all our supporters. Any donations towards the cost of room hire are welcome.