Last Saturday, Birley Ward’s Labour councillors attended the South Yorkshire Festival at Wortley Hall, along with members of Birley Ward Labour Party.
This was a wonderful event, with many stalls from trade unions, local Labour branches and community organisations from across the region, as well as stalls selling all manner of arts, crafts and foodstuffs.
Birley Ward members and councillors had a great time in the sunny weather, fundraising and discussing with festival-goers how best to fight the cuts foisted on Sheffield and South Yorkshire by this pitiless Conservative/Liberal Democrat government.
Councillor Denise Fox said: ‘It was great to see so many people at the festival that are determined to fight for those suffering from the coalition’s policies. The cuts on local services and the bedroom tax are having a terrible effect, and it’s all thanks to the government that the Sheffield Liberal Democrats support. The message to them from today is clear: the people of Sheffield and South Yorkshire won’t stand by while you attack the most vulnerable’.
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.”
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.
Sheffield Lib Dems made a great song and dance about alternate week bin collections upon their introduction, which is unsurprising since they haven’t got much else to talk about (unless you count their remorseless attacks on public services as part of the Coalition – wonder why they’d want to avoid that subject?). According to Lib Dem Councillor Anders Hanson, fortnightly bin collections were something to be fought tooth and nail: indeed, he promised to ‘mercilessly attack’ the Council for moving to fortnightly collections
But not only are Sheffield Lib Dems now dropping their opposition to alternate week collections… they’re doing it on the quiet! Last week, without publicity they submitted a motion to December’s Full Council meeting saying: “it would now be extremely difficult to revert back to weekly black bin collections”. In other words, Sheffield Lib Dems’ thundering opposition to fortnightly collections has ended with a whimper; they won’t include funding for weekly collections in their proposed budget for next year.
But this flip-flopping isn’t new. Earlier this year the hapless Mr. Hanson let the cat out of the bag with his comments in some obscure publication called Lib Dem Voice: “I think it has now become almost impossible politically to introduce new fortnightly bin collections as both the opposition and the press will mercilessly attack anyone who does it. … However most people are happy with fortnightly collections when they get used to it.”
So it’s clear that Sheffield Lib Dems have been publically campaigning against fortnightly collections while admitting in their barely read in-house magazine that that the public have no problem with them! The only conclusion to draw from this is that their opposition was nothing more than cynical political opportunism, intended to distract Sheffielders from the damage their Tory and Lib Dem colleagues in Westminster are doing to our city.
An exasperated Councillor Jack Scott, cabinet member for Environment, Recycling and Streetscene said:
“The Lib Dems are the only party to break their promises even when they’re in opposition. It now looks like they have finally accepted that we had no other option but to move to alternate week collection due to the massive cuts Nick Clegg and the Tory Government are imposing on the council. “Their campaign against alternate week collections has been merciless and politically motivated, people can see through that. The Lib Dems should apologise to the people of Sheffield for making false promises yet again, they have a lot of questions to answer “With further cuts coming from their Autumn Statement it’s about time the Lib Dems started campaigning against the cuts that will affect the people of Sheffield. It is wrong that they continue stand up for their government’s decisions instead of standing up for Sheffield.”
There’s good news for Sheffield shoppers and businesses with Sheffield Labour Party’s announcement of a new ‘shopper’ rate for city centre parking over the Christmas period. The new rate is £3 for three hours: compared to the standard price of £9.30, that’s over a two-thirds discount! The concessionary period will commence on Monday 19th November, and will run up to and through Christmas.
When added to the City Deal recently signed to safeguard the continued redevelopment of the city centre, this reduction is a clear demonstration of Labour’s determination to revitalise Sheffield in the midst of tough times. Labour are the only party that can be trusted to support businesses and shoppers while fighting cuts to council services resulting from vicious Conservative/Lib Dem cuts.
Labour Cabinet Member for Business, Skills and Development, Councillor Leigh Bramall, said:
“It is vital that we support the city centre in the current climate which is why we are introducing this new shopper rate of £3 for 6 hours and we hope that this will bring people into the city centre for Christmas shopping. “Labour have made it a priority to be a business friendly council which is why we have introduced important schemes such as the Sheffield Apprenticeship Programme which supports local businesses to take on an apprentice and the Keep Sheffield Working Fund. “It is vital for our city’s economy to have a vibrant city centre, which is why we are taking action to support businesses and secure its long term future through key projects such as the Moor redevelopment and continuing our work to deliver Sevenstone.”
The city centre car parks offering this promotional rate will be:
Not content with collaborating with Tory cuts that are bleeding our city dry, the Sheffield Liberal Democrats are now coming up with schemes to waste mind-boggling amounts of taxpayers’ money. Their latest one is a proposal to waste £132,000,000 – yes, you read correctly, £132,000,000 – by giving free parking to Sheffield residents during the Streets Ahead project due to revitalise Sheffield’s roads.
After this proposal was put forward by the hapless Lib Dems in October, impartial feedback was given by council officers. This projected that free parking for the amount of cars likely to be affected simply could not be provided by the council without calling in private contractors. Even using conservative estimates of one car per household, with each car charged for parking at £4 per day, the bill would come out at £26,400,000 per year. For the five years the project is due to run that makes a grand total of £132,000,000!
In the present financial climate this is astonishingly irresponsible, and demonstrates that the Liberal Democrats have spent so long pandering to their Tory masters that they’ve lost touch with financial reality.
The Sheffield Labour Party, on the other hand, have proposed the prudent and sensible solution of asking residents to arrange parking alternatives for themselves for the short time their street is being improved. Not only would this avoid spending a ridiculously large amount of money; it would avoid the imposition of a solution when many car owners would prefer to find one for themselves. In addition, it has the benefit of harnessing Sheffielders’ famous self-reliance.
Labour Cabinet Member for Environment, Recycling and Streetscene, Councillor Jack Scott, was incredulous when he said:
“I’m not sure if the Lib Dems are on the same planet as everyone else. The council is being absolutely hammered by this Government, which the Lib Dems are propping up, and at the same time they want us to spend over £26 million for the next five years to give free parking to everyone in Sheffield.
“The Lib Dems latest ludicrous idea that we need to give people free parking to everyone for 20 weeks whilst the Streets Ahead project is in their area, but the fact is that most people will only be affected by the Streets Ahead improvements in their street for a few days.”
“I can’t imagine that anyone else in Sheffield would support spending so much money on giving free parking to everyone, especially when we have had such heavy cuts imposed on us by their Government.
“Inevitably this will cause some disruption for some people but we wouldn’t be asking people to do it wasn’t to make such important improvements to transform the roads network, which we all know that people really want to see. The Lib Dems are playing silly games making stupid promises.”
We’ll add to Councillor Scott’s words by asking: with this shocking disregard for taxpayers’ money, could the Sheffield Lib Dems be trusted to run a stall at a jumble sale, never mind council finances? We think you’ll agree with us that the answer is definitely not…
Low-paid workers in Sheffield have received a boost with the news that the Sheffield Labour Party are supporting the campaign for a living wage. Changes being proposed by Sheffield Labour Group will see a Living Wage being brought in at Sheffield City Council, with council workers being paid a minimum of £7.20 per hour from April 2013. Over 250 staff are in line to benefit from this wage increase, and the projected cost of £700,000 will be more than offset by £1,000,000 savings made by reductions to senior management.
A Living Wage is not just great news for these low-paid workers and their families; it is also great news for Sheffield as a whole . If, as Sheffield Labour Party hopes, the example set is followed by private sector employers the increased spending power in the hands of families across the city would result in a significant boost for the local economy.
This proposal is set to debated at next week’s full council meeting. Let’s hope for the sake of hard-working council employees that the Lib Dems don’t adopt their usual position of opposition for the sake of it!
Labour Leader of Sheffield City Council, Councillor Julie Dore, said:
“A Sheffield Living Wage would help to reduce poverty in this city and I believe it is important that the council leads by example in this area, which is why I am committed to making sure that next year all council staff will receive a living wage. By implementing the Living Wage no one will earn less than £7.20 per hour in the council and we will work with employers across the city in other parts of the public sector as well as the private and voluntary sectors to make sure that this has a big impact across the city. It is the poorest who are being hit hardest by the Government’s failure to grow the economy, this is an achievable, pragmatic way of supporting people on low incomes across the city and I am pleased that we are able to take it forward.”
The public services union Unison have been at the forefront of the nationwide Living Wage campaign. Their Sheffield Organiser Dean Harper said:
“Unison have campaigned for a Living Wage and we are delighted that Labour are delivering this in Sheffield. Only yesterday we learned that one in five workers in the UK earn less than the living wage and we believe it’s vital that this is tacked. People on the lowest incomes are being hit hardest by rising prices, the increased cost of living and the double dip recession caused by the Tory Government. It is important that the council leads the way in this and makes sure that everyone earns a fair income.”
Sheffield First Partnership, The Star and Sheffield for Democracy invite you to attend a public question and answer session with the candidates for the post of Police & Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire on Monday 5th November 2012, 5.00 – 7.00 pm.
The candidates speaking are:
Shaun Wright (Labour)
Nigel Bonson (Conservative)
Robert Teal (Liberal Democrat)
Jonathan Arnott (UKIP)
David Allen (English Democrats)
This event will take place at:
Peak Lecture Theatre
The Owen Building
Sheffield Hallam University
For any queries regarding this event, please email email@example.com or call 0114 273 5822.
The campaign to elect South Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner is gathering pace, with the election being held on Thursday 15th November: that’s three weeks away. Given the lacerating cuts the coalition is inflicting on the people of South Yorkshire, it’s essential that the Labour Party candidate is elected.
As a long-serving Rotherham councillor and Vice Chairman of the South Yorkshire Police Authority, Shaun Wright has the history of public service, qualifications and experience to be an excellent Police and Crime Commissioner. He’s the only candidate standing for the post that can be trusted to protect frontline services and ensure that South Yorkshire Police continue to serve everyone in our county, regardless of their background.
The Tories and Lib Dem candidates are guaranteed to carry on their government’s remorseless attack on public services, while the candidate from the virulently right-wing UKIP would be even more draconian. A victory for any of them would be disastrous for the people of South Yorkshire.
But though we urge all eligible voters in Birley Ward to vote for Shaun Wright, we think it’s important that those who wish to have a chance to speak to the candidate, so they can put their concerns about crime and policing to him. To this end, we’ve organised for Shaun to be in our ward this Saturday: from 11:30am-1:00pm he’ll be joining us at Basegreen shops on Jaunty Way to talk to the public, and to answer your questions on the forthcoming poll. It’d be great to see as many ward residents there as possible: this is your chance to speak to Labour’s candidate in person. In addition, Councillors Bryan Lodge and Denise Fox will be there, along with members of your ward Labour Party: we’ll be happy to discuss with you just why it’s essential that Shaun is elected South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner.
In case you’re unaware of the location, this link to Google maps shows you where it is:
We look forward to seeing you all on Saturday. This is one of the most important elections of recent times, and we have no doubt that when you’ve joined us you’ll agree: Shaun Wright is the outstanding candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire.
As may be seen in our previous post, Sheffield City Council has just issued a press release regarding the Council’s budget for the near future.
It’s important that all residents of our city read it, as it sets out the extremely tough financial environment the council will have to operate in in the next few years and beyond. Press and political opponents will no doubt paint this as ‘Labour cuts’, but these cuts are entirely the result of the Conservative/Lib Dem coalition slashing the money that Sheffield receives from council tax receipts raised in the city. It’s true that councils across the country are facing reduced funding, but these reductions are both disproportionate and partisan: so far Sheffield has lost £280 per head of population (with more to come), while Tory/Lib Dem councils in the south have lost much less. Dorset, for instance, has only lost £40 per head!
Given this, it’s essential that all people striving to build a better Sheffield find out for themselves the extent of the Tory/Lib Dem attack on our city, and then set the record straight in discussion with family, friends and work colleagues. These cuts are not Labour’s doing: they’re the scheme of a government that has it in for working class people, and that message has to be heard. It would be scandalous for hard-working Labour councillors to take the blame for this, thus letting in the Lib Dems again… the very party that’s colluding in this brutal attack on our public services!
But the most shocking thing is that this attack on Sheffield’s being driven by one of our city’s own MPs! Co-architect of the cuts Nick Clegg doesn’t care, though: he has no illusions about getting re-elected in Sheffield, and no doubt has already lined up some lucrative job at the EU for when the cuts truly hit and the voters of Sheffield show him what they think at the next election.
If you’d like any more information on this, please don’t hesitate to contact your Labour Councillor (for Birley Ward, these are Councillors Bryan Lodge, Denise Fox and Karen McGowan).
It’s up to the people of Sheffield to ensure that the Tories and Lib Dems get the credit they deserve for what they’re doing to our great city.
Despite increasing numbers of cities seeing the real benefits of Bus Partnerships, Sheffield Liberal Democrats are still opposing them. Along with their Green Party allies, they’re continuing to advocate the outdated ‘Quality Contract’ model for bus service provision, despite it being more costly for the taxpayer and less responsive to the wishes of the travelling public.
Their position is so wrong, even their own Transport Secretary – Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker – opposes them! In a recent policy document – ‘Green Light for Better Buses’ – he wrote:
“…recognises the welcome difference that partnerships are making up and down the country. Collaborations between local authorities, operators and passengers are helping co-ordinate timetables in Liverpool, Oxford and Sheffield…They are succeeding because they combine local knowledge of what passengers want in their area with the resources to make a difference.”
A Voluntary Bus Partnership – a key policy of Sheffield Labour Party – is by far the best way to run the city’s bus system, as it is more affordable, better integrated with other transport options, and much more in tune with the needs of the bus users of Sheffield. Furthermore, since it involves passenger groups, the bus companies and the local authority working together, the Partnership can be changed quickly and effectively as issues arise. Councillor Leigh Bramall, Labour Cabinet Member for Business, Skills and Development, said:
“The bus partnership is the best deal for Sheffield and it is supported by cross-party MP’s at a national level. Norman Baker has praised Sheffield for its collaborative approach to improving bus services in the city. The Lib Dems are trying to score political points by stalling improvements and are not concerned about the best interests of Sheffield residents.”
The opposition of Sheffield’s Lib Dems to the city’s successful Bus Partnership is yet another sign of their increasing disarray. Not only do they oppose the needs of Sheffield’s travelling public, they’re now in conflict with the preferred policy of the senior transport spokesman of their own party! If the Lib Dems’ last administration wasn’t so damaging to Sheffield, we might even be starting to feel sorry for them…
The elections for Sheffield Council are being held this Thursday, May 3rd. We urge all residents of Birley Ward to vote for Bryan Lodge: he is the only candidate that can effectively fight for the people of our ward.
As Deputy Leader of Sheffield Council, Bryan has a record of standing up to the coalition government, and of doing his best to oppose the punitive cuts inflicted on cities like ours by the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives. Remember, a vote for either of them is a vote for the parties that are slashing funding in councils in the north of England, while leaving Liberal Democrat and Conservative council budgets in the south virtually untouched! It’s clear that Liberal Democrats and Conservatives in Sheffield can’t be trusted to stand up for us: they’re too busy helping their coalition cronies.
So if you oppose the cuts, vote for The Labour Party’s Bryan Lodge on Thursday May 3rd, and help him continue to fight for your interests.