Does Sheffield council need a formal coalition?
Plus, Jarvis Cocker rummages through his loft
Good afternoon readers — and welcome to our Monday briefing.
Elections are meant to settle political issues, but it seems Sheffield’s recent local polls have produced more questions than answers. With nothing but radio silence from council leaders since the results were announced more than 10 days ago, today we try to figure out what might happen when councillors meet up again on Wednesday.
As well as that we have all our usual favourite reads, recommendations and updates including some great news about the work of one of our regular contributors and a fascinating talk about the lost pubs of Sheffield’s past.
Catch up and coming up
Thanks to everyone who read, liked and shared Jack Dulhanty’s brilliant weekend read about Sheffield’s blooming culinary scene. You can still read that piece here.
Last week we sent just one story out to our 663 paying members, as I was on a short break from work. That story about the problems at the Jessop’s maternity wing is something we are hoping to return to in the future. If you have any experience of the hospital — either as a patient or as a member of staff — please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week normal service resumes with two stories including one about the battle over the grouse moors in the hills high above Sheffield. To get both of this week’s members’ pieces and help fund a new form of journalism in Sheffield, please consider subscribing using the button below. It costs just £1.34 a week if you pay upfront for the year.
Attercliffe past and present
A new painting by much-loved Sheffield artist Joe Scarborough was last week unveiled at the Olympic Legacy Park in Attercliffe. The painting, which shows both the historic past and bright future of the former industrial neighbourhood, is currently on public display at the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre.
This week’s weather
Our weather forecast comes from dedicated Sheffield weather service Steel City Skies, who say with low pressure never too far away and warm air pumping up from the south, a warm but unstable week is expected with sunshine and heavy showers.
Monday 🌦 Cloudy with heavy rain to start, clearing to warm sunshine and heavy downpours by the afternoon. Highs of 20°C.
Tuesday ⛅️ Drier and warmer with variable cloud and spells of sunshine. Risk of heavy showers late evening and overnight. Highs of 23°C.
Wednesday 🌦 Staying warm with further showers expected through the day, interspersed with spells of sunshine. Highs of 21°C.
Thursday ⛅️ Cooler but drier as a ridge of high pressure builds in from the south. Bright with only isolated showers expected. Highs of 18°C.
Friday 🌥 Similar to Thursday with bright spells and variable cloud. Light southwest winds. A low shower risk with highs of 18°C.
Outlook: A good chance of dry weather but not as warm as the weekend just gone. A typical spring weekend with warm sunshine and the risk of one or two showers, mainly in the west.
The big story: Does Sheffield council need a formal coalition?
Top line: It’s now been more than 10 days since the local elections gave no one party an outright majority on Sheffield City Council. There is lots of talk about a “new coalition” — but do we really need one?
Election stalemate: While Labour are still the largest party on the council, they now only have 39 seats — four short of an overall majority. The next biggest party are the Lib Dems on 29 seats and then the Greens on 14. There is also one Conservative and one independent. The full council will meet again on Wednesday, May 18 for the first time since the election.
What happens now? While the political makeup of the council is essentially unchanged, one thing that has changed is how the council takes decisions.
There will be no new cabinet, with decisions formerly made by the leader and cabinet members now being made by eight powerful policy committees instead.
We will still need a new council leader though who will chair the main resources and strategy committee along with the other seven committee chairs.
Decisions, decisions: This major change in the way decisions are made combined with the electoral cards the parties have been dealt means the range of options open to the council’s political leaders are mind-bogglingly complex. A few of the options available to them are outlined below.
Minority rule: Some councils in no overall control decide to run as a minority administration. This would mean Labour would provide the leader and all committee chairs but would need the support of other parties to get each item on its agenda through on a case-by-case basis.
Two-party coalition: A repeat of the last year’s Labour and Green coalition is possible, while Lib Dem leader Shaffaq Mohammed has said he would also consider a pact with the Greens. Both these scenarios would produce a majority on the full council and in the new committees, potentially freezing out the other main party from the decision-making process.
Rainbow coalition: There was talk of a so-called “rainbow coalition” involving Labour, the Lib Dems and the Greens after last year’s local elections, but in the end the Lib Dems opted not to take part.
This would see all parties working together and is the model favoured by the group It’s Our City! who brought about last year’s change in council governance.
They think a looser or more open arrangement between the parties will mean more ongoing dialogue and collaboration between the different political groupings.
Bottom line: Ultimately, the committee system is so new that no one knows exactly how it’s going to work, and a review is promised after six months to see if any further changes need to be made. Maybe, in time, party tribalism and the political habits of a lifetime will dissipate — but until that happens, we will probably have plenty of teething troubles on the way.
Home of the week
This beautiful four-bedroomed detached house in Meersbrook has extensive gardens as well as a biomass heating system and roof top solar panels. It is on the market for £500,000.
Our favourite reads
An interesting piece in the Yorkshire Post examines new South Yorkshire Mayor Oliver Coppard’s long-term plans to expand the Supertram network. Expanding the network to more places in Sheffield including Stocksbridge, Totley and Beighton have long been mooted but plans to add Barnsley and Doncaster are now also on the agenda.
A good interview in Now Then with former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn who tonight (May 16) will speak at the University of Sheffield’s Octagon Centre as part of Opus Independents’ Festival of Debate. Corbyn talks to reporter Lucy Brownson about the war in Ukraine, community socialism, and why kids in Chile have Sheffield accents.
A nice story in The Star about the imminent restoration of Canada House in Sheffield city centre. The huge Grade II*-listed building used to be the headquarters of the gas light company, but has struggled to find users for the last 40 years. Now, thanks to £12m from the government’s levelling up fund it is to be turned into a music education hub.
Taking the plunge
Thanks to Sheffield Outdoor Plungers group for sharing this wonderful photo of some of their members enjoying a dip at the Rivelin Valley plunge pools on Sunday. More information and advice on how to swim safely outdoors can be found on the group’s Facebook and Instagram pages.
Things to do
Art: Pete McKee’s new Don’t Adjust Your Mindset show at the Millennium Gallery started on Friday and runs until May 22 (go in the week if you can as at the weekend long queues have been forming). Also on at the moment is Dark Peak Demi Paradise, a new collection of paintings of remote areas of the Peak District by Richard Johnson at Persistence Works.
Talk: We’ve previously dubbed him a raconteur, while the blurb for this event opts for bon viveur. However you want to describe him, Ron Clayton certainly knows his onions, or in this case, his pubs. Everyone’s favourite local historian will be delivering a free talk about the lost pubs of Sheffield’s past on Tuesday, May 17 at Weston Park Museum (1.00pm-1.45pm).
Listen: Sheffield music legend Jarvis Cocker’s new book Good Pop, Bad Pop is published later this month and BBC Radio 4 have been doing a serialisation of it read by the man himself. In the book Cocker (who grew up in Intake) delves into the contents of his loft, exploring his past, the origins of his creativity and what makes good pop music work.
Preserved for posterity
Some great news about Roger Quail, who readers may remember from his fantastic music blog that we regularly recommend. Roger, who was involved with seminal Sheffield bands Cabaret Voltaire, Clock DVA and The Box, is attempting to tell the history of the 1970s and 1980s Sheffield post-punk scene by writing about every gig he’s ever been to. Now, the Sheffield City Archives have said they want to preserve his blog and the podcast that goes with it as a historical record of the city’s storied musical heritage.