Birley Ward support No to Grammar Schools Campaign

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Spot the Birley Ward Councillor Karen McGowan (centre of picture just peeping out from behind a guy with glasses!)

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Birley Ward member Ken Curran amongst supporters of the campaign

It was great to see such fantastic support at the campaign to say no to Grammar Schools that was held outside the Sheffield Town Hall yesterday. Over 600 signature were collected.

Cycling 100 miles for Lord Mayors Charity

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Lord Mayor of Sheffield Birley Ward Councillor Denise Fox’s son Jordan Fox and family friend Ray Mason will be cycling from Sheffield to Skegness on Saturday 9 October to raise funds for the Lord Mayors charities. Jordan says “I only started cycling at the beginning of the year and I got addicted straight away. I wanted to join a club and thanks to the great set of fellow riders at Sitwell cycle club, I joined. My other goal was to complete a 100 mile bike ride. What better way to do this then to help my mum who is the current Lord Mayor of Sheffield raise as much money as she possibly can for her four chosen charities which are close to her heart. The four charities are:
Army Benevolent Fund – supporting soldiers, former soldiers and immediate family of the British army.
St Luke’s – supporting a hospice which helps people through a difficult journey.
Sparkle – supporting disabled children, young people and their families.
Support Dogs – supporting a Sheffield based national charity helping children with epilepsy, physical disabilities and autism.

I hope you all give generously as I am going to kill myself doing this ride. Thanks to Cllr Karen McGowan for generously putting the accommodation up for me. Thanks to Cllr Terry Fox for being the support on the way down. And thanks to Ray Mason for taking me on the route and looking after me or killing me.”

If you would like to donate please go to Jordan’s just giving page on facebook
https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/jordon-fox-1?utm_campaign=projectpage-share-owner&utm_content=jordon-fox-1&utm_medium=Yimbyprojectpage&utm_source=Facebook&utm_term=EdB8W64am

Cllr Denise Fox as Sheffield’s new Lord Mayor

We would like to congratulate Councillor Denise Fox who is now Sheffield’s new Lord Mayor.

 

Denise is the 120th Lord Mayor of Sheffield, and the 17th female, and has been a loyal Labour Councillor for the Birley Ward since 2005.

 

Denise said ‘I will carry out my role as Lord Mayor the 1st citizen of Sheffield to the best of my ability, and I look forward to the year ahead’.

 

Congratulations Denise and good luck in your new role!

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Councillor Shaffaq Mohammed has a Cunning Plan

Councillor Shaffaq Mohammed has a Cunning Plan
Councillor Shaffaq Mohammed has a Cunning Plan

As Baldrick to Nick Clegg’s duplicitous Blackadder, Councillor Shaffaq Mohammed has a long history of cunning plans. They’re reliably moronic, but the latest is his worst yet.

He was quoted in last Saturday’s Star as saying this:

These figures show the Labour council is one of the softest when it comes to cracking down on council tax dodgers.While turning to bailiffs should always be a last resort, the vast majority of people who do pay their bills have a right to ask why Sheffield’s Labour councillors are failing to take action.

So there it is. The hapless sidekick of the man partnering Old Etonian David Cameron in the most ferocious assault on the vulnerable in living memory is outraged, which if it wasn’t so serious really would be low comedy masquerading as politics.

First, he cheerleads his master’s government in ruthlessly slashing the money for council services and in implementing the punitive Bedroom Tax, both of which hammer the many honest people already struggling to pay their bills due to the ConDems’ austerity. Then, when those in arrears face legal action due to the difficulties he’s had a hand in creating, he complains that they’re not victimised further!

But what’s the pay-off for this cunning plan of epic proportions? To help his master cosy up further to David Cameron, and for the Sheffield Lib Dems to get votes from those local Tories that think being poor is a crime punishable by flogging. It’s like clockwork!

But unfortunately for him, Cllr. Baldrick’s cunning plan is yet another dud. Why? For the same reason his plans never work: the people of Sheffield are wiser than him. They see the actions of the government, and they see how he supports their vindictive assaults on public services. They see how everything he does is in support of his Tory-loving master, Nick Clegg, and they see their joint contempt for those suffering due to their actions. They see, and they’ll remember, and they’ll remind him at the next election.

Perhaps Cllr. Baldrick should consider that the next time he has the cunning plan of attacking those going through hard times.

TUC Austerity Uncovered Tour

thumbs_austerity-unconvered-dudleyThe TUC’s Austerity Uncovered Tour bus is visiting Sheffield on Saturday 22nd June and will be pulling up to talk to local people in Handsworth between 4pm -6pm. The tour will be calling at The Club at Holme Lea (the former Handsworth WMC) and will have members of the Shadow Cabinet alongside TUC Officials on board. The nationwide tour is gathering evidence to show that the Government’s  Austerity Programme isn’t working , but the measures are hurting. So come along and help inform the debate, present your evidence and help support the campaign to convince the Tories and Lib Dems that enough is enough. During the visit, the National Musicians Union are providing entertainment through the Amelia Carter Band who will also be performing in July at the Tramlines festival.

For further information, visit http://austerityuncovered.org/

A Fair Deal For Sheffield

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There are just ten days left for you to add your signature to The People’s Petition for a Fair Deal For Sheffield. Signatures from the online petition will be collated with the thousands of signatures already collected.

On Tuesday May 14th a delegation of Sheffield’s political, faith and community leaders will take the Fair Deal for Sheffield campaign to London. The delegation, including the Bishop of Sheffield and Bishop of Hallam, will hand in the Fair Deal for Sheffield petition to the Prime Minister at Number 10 Downing Street.
The Fair Deal campaign was launched earlier in the year by Sheffield’s faith leaders, the voluntary and community sector, trade unions and local politicians to highlight the unfairness of the Government’s cuts on Sheffield, compared to wealthier areas which are receiving much lower reductions in funding. Thousands of Sheffielders have signed the petition to show their concern and anger about the Government’s unfair cuts, and to call on
the Government to give fair funding to Sheffield and South Yorkshire.

Cllr Julie Dore, who will lead the delegation, said:
“Sheffield has borne the brunt of this Government’s unfair cuts and I think local people believe it is wrong that Sheffield Council is receiving devastating cuts whilst some of the wealthiest areas of the country receive almost no cuts at all.
“I would like to thank everyone who has been involved and hopefully the strength of force behind the campaign which has included people from a wide range of sectors across the city will make the Government sit up and take notice of the impact that the cuts are having in Sheffield, when so far our concerns have fallen on deaf ears.”
Paul Blomfield MP, who raised the campaign in Parliament, said:
“Churches and mosques, community groups and trade unions, have come together with thousands of Sheffielders to raise their voice about the unfairness of the cuts on our city and on people’s lives. You only have to read some of the comments from those who signed the petition. Community services are closing, jobs are going and some of the most vulnerable people are facing real hardship. And it will get worse unless the Government listen to the people of Sheffield, change course and allocate funding fairly. It’s not right that parts of the country, far wealthier than Sheffield, are only seeing minor budget reductions. Unless there’s a change, Sheffield’s cuts will reach £200 per person by 2015 – over 5 times the amount taken away from wealthy areas like Windsor, Guildford, and Wokingham in the south of England.”

The Sheffield delegation who will travel to London to hand in the petition will
be:
Cllr Julie Dore – Leader, Sheffield City Council
The Rt Revd Steven Croft- the Anglican Bishop of Sheffield
The Rt Revd John Rawsthorne – the Catholic Bishop of Hallam
Abtisam Mohammed- Chair, Sheffield Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Network
Sue White – Chief Executive, Voluntary Action Sheffield
Mohammed Aslam – Chairman of the Madina Mosque
And they will be joined by Sheffield Members of Parliament at the hand-in.

The Fair Deal for Sheffield campaign was endorsed by Sheffield City Council at the Full Council meeting on March 1st and has also received the backing of a wide range of local organisations, charities, churches and individuals. Supporters include Voluntary Action Sheffield; the Third Sector Assembly; Sheffield LINK; Church Army; Sheffield Wildlife Trust; Sheffield University Students Union; Sheffield Hallam University Students Union; Yorkshire and the Humber TUC; the trade unions Unite, Unison and the GMB; and the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright.

For more information, visit the Fair Deal For Sheffield Website

http://afairdealforsheffield.com

April 1st – No Joke!

This week has seen a raft of changes that, taken together, represent the the biggest contraction in the welfare state since its foundations in the 1940s.
Millions of families – the majority being working households on low incomes – are seeing significant real reductions in their incomes. This government is committed to further real cuts in income for years to come. Bankers get bonuses, ordinary working families get battered.
The speed with which the government is moving to introduce Universal Credit is bringing considerable risks. The government had promised that the scheme was to be piloted in four areas starting this month. Now it has suddenly announced that three of those areas won’t start until July. It’s difficult to see how any lessons can be learned for a scheme to be implemented in October.
There is a very real risk that the new computer systems and software for Universal Credit will simply not be fit for purpose and, at best, there will be insufficient time to sort out any glitches. Further, the transition to Universal Credit almost certainly leaves the system more vulnerable to fraud.
Direct payment of rent to tenants rather than to landlords is almost certain to increase rent arrears, as families under financial pressure will find it difficult to resist the temptation to use their rent cash as an alternative to a pay-day loan. I don’t know of any council – of any political persuasion – or housing association which hasn’t increased its provision for rent arrears.
It is also inevitable that there will be huge confusion from the separation of housing and council tax benefits. I think people massively under-estimate the number of households and families who come in to and out of eligibility for various benefits during the course of any year. This is only going to increase as the number of temporary and short-term jobs increases.
It’s difficult to believe other than that there will be a very big rise this Autumn in the number of families who will be contacting MPs, councillors and advice bureaux wanting urgent assistance with their benefit problems.
No, April 1st is no joke this year.

Tories In Sheffield On A Different Planet!

George Osbourne demonstrates his take on efficiencies!
George Osbourne demonstrates his take on efficiencies!

Vonny Watts,  Deputy Chair of the Conservatives in Sheffield, shows just how out of touch the Tories are with the majority of people across Sheffield.

Speaking on Radio Sheffield this morning, Vonny asked that we talk of “..efficiencies not cuts, because that’s what they are…” So does Vonny consider the cuts to Sheffield’s budgets as ‘efficiency savings’? Where has Vonny been for the last few months? Has she not heard the cries on anguish from across the City as people and groups see the impact of cuts to their communities and services? Does she really think that the decision to reduce the council’s budget by £140m over the last two years and a further £50m for the forthcoming financial year is based on ‘efficiencies’? 

Her government, propped up by Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems, have brutally cut the sum allocated to Sheffield that means we are having to curtail spending across all services. They have slashed over £7m from the Early Intervention Grant that supported Children’s Centres, Child Care and Youth Activities;  they have cut over £5m of funding for Council Tax supporthitting low income families  and they have introduced the horrendous ‘Bedroom Tax’ that penalises people for wanting to say in the family home they’ve lived in for years!  Staggeringly, inspite of these  attacks on low income families, Vonny went on to proclaim that the Tories are “the compassionate party”!

And lets not forget, these ‘efficiencies’ that Sheffield is facing come at the same time that Vonny’s friends in London are introducing a £100k tax cut for millionaires.  But hey, we’re all in it together!

Big Dave’s Strange Trip North

Prime Minister David Cameron visited a factory in West Yorkshire on Thursday 7th March to give what had been billed as a major speech on the economy prior to the Chancellor’s Budget presentation later in the month.

Mr. Cameron stressed not once but several times during his address to a group of very sober, if not sad, businessmen and women “that there was no alternative to more austerity”. It sounded like the return of Mrs. Thatcher – or Dracula returns – to bleed us all dry. He claimed his policies on the economy were working and referred us to so-called evidence from the Office of Public Responsibility to add weight to his hollow claims. On his return to Downing Street, after his brief encounter with those strange Northern Tribesmen, Big Dave found a letter on his desk from no other person than the Head of the Office of Budget Responsibility which stated that government’s austerity programme had knocked 1.4% off the value of the Gross National Product over the past two years. Whoops! Big Dave’s trip falls flat…

We were treated to a storytelling session when Cameron met the natives of West Yorkshire. In that very expressive way of waving his arms around in order to keep his audience in rapture, or to keep them from falling asleep, Big Dave told his audience that “there were no such things as money trees”. He went on to tell these hard-headed West-Yorkshire folk that you had to work hard if you want to succeed! However down in the Sleazy South money trees flourish all year long. On Friday 8th March 2013 Barclays and RBS revealed 253 staff take home more than £1 million per year. Barclays were hit by a fine of £390 million for rigging the market, yet earlier this week Barclays paid 204 of their employees £1 million each.

I thought one of the principles of the law was that no-one should profit from crime. Apparently it doesn’t include banks: their money grows on trees.

David Cameron’s Missing Money Tree

During his recent speech on the economy in Batley, West Yorkshire, David Cameron nailed his colours to the mast of S.S. Britannia when speaking on the economy. He steadfastly refused to consider any other alternative strategy. There is only one way, more austerity, more cuts in public spending. Suffering is the price ordinary people in Batley and elsewhere are paying for his bravado!

He tells us “there is no money tree”: that is only half true! There is no money tree in Sheffield, perhaps, but on Threadneedle Street and Canary Wharf the money trees blossom all year round, and the harvest continues to make the rich richer than ever, while for the rest we get poorer.

Ken Curran, Chair, Birley Ward Labour Party.

Clegg Corrected By Council Chief Exec Over False Claims

Nick Clegg faces rebuke from Sheffield City Council
Nick Clegg faces rebuke from Sheffield City Council

Lib Dem Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has been delivered an embarassing letter by Sheffield City Council’s independent Chief Executive, spelling out the untruths he has recently made about the council’s budget.

In recent weeks Mr Clegg has been caught misinterpreting Sheffield City Council finances in a desperate attempt to deflect attention away from the huge cuts that his Government are making to Sheffield. Sheffield City Council has to save £50 million next year, in addition to the £140 million it has had to cut over the past two years, whilst some of the wealthiest areas in the country receive almost no cuts at all.

At its February meeting Sheffield City Council asked the Council’s Chief Executive to write to Nick Clegg correcting inaccurate claims he has made on a number of issues.

The letter corrects Nick Clegg’s inaccurate claims around the council’s work to save money on accommodation costs and essential Town Hall maintenance. The letter also points out that contrary to his claims, Sheffield City Council has the lowest useable reserves of any large local authority in England and also corrects incorrect Lib Dem claims on consultant spending.

Councillor Bryan Lodge, Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources said:

“It is a damning indictment of the untruths that Nick Clegg has been telling that we have had to ask the Chief Executive to write to him to correct the misinformation that he has been putting out in recent weeks.

“The fact is that across the country cities like Sheffield are being forced to make unprecedented reductions to services because of the massive cuts that as Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg is responsible for. At the same time as we are being forced to make these cuts some of the wealthiest areas of the country are receiving almost no cuts at all. Instead of continuing to try to mislead the people of Sheffield about council spending Mr Clegg should stand up to the Tories and tell them to give Sheffield a fair deal.”

Nick Clegg and Lib Dems deliberate attempt to mislead the Sheffield public.

There’ve been so many stories in the media recently regarding the Council’s reserves that you’d think that Mr Clegg and his Lib Dem party in Sheffield would have checked their facts before launching in to their pathetic claims that Sheffield is sitting on huge reserves that could be used to protect front line services. In an open letter, Nick claims that Sheffield has £167m reserves, a figure he has taken from the Council’s ‘statement of accounts’ that has a line labelled ‘useable reserves’. What he conveniently failed to say was that many of these are earmarked to cover committed expenditure, some as the result of national legislation.  For example, it includes £26 million that we are looking after for, and belonging to, Sheffield’s schools; £25 million that can only be spent on council housing; and, £57 million that is committed to our ‘capital programme’ – the really big projects that span a number of years like rebuilding schools, new road schemes, major building repairs and so on. Government rules are very clear that we cannot spend this money on services. Other committed reserves for major capital projects, such as ‘Streetsahead’ of around £48million leave a true ‘useable reserves’ figure of around £11million. Now we could, in theory, use this money to support services, but would that be wise? To put this in context, when Sheffield was devastated by flooding a few years ago, the council spent over £7million that wasn’t recoverable from government compensation schemes; recent bad winters have seen an additional spend of over £2millon to support measures across the council. Our reserves are in fact equivalent to a household that spends £20,000 per year and keeps just £170 in case of emergencies. It makes sense to keep some cash back ‘just in case’.

Leader of the Lib Dems in Sheffield, Cllr Shaffaq Mohammed, seems equally inclines to mislead the public as he too has indicated that he would use reserves to support next year’s budget. Is this a case of misrepresentation of the facts, or an attempt to mislead the public? Or maybe it’s more an indication of just how little Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems in Sheffield understand about economic and accounting procedures. Time for Nick and Shaffaq to apologise, but I wouldn’t hold your breath.