Independent Labour Publications invites you to: Unbalanced Britain: Education, inequality and Labour’s response
A one day seminar at The Circle, Sheffield, Saturday 4 March 2017
About the speakers Melissa Benn is a writer and campaigner on education. Melissa is currently chair of the crossparty group campaigning group Comprehensive Forum, is a vice president of the Socialist
Education Association, and founder member of the Local Schools Network. Julie Thorpe is schools programmes manager at the Co-operative College, heading a
programme working towards establishing co-operative values in the education system.
The seminar takes place at The Circle, 33 Rockingham Lane, Sheffield S1 4FW
http://www.thecirclesheffield.org.uk/. It is free but you do need to register in advance,
deadline Friday 24 February. Register via the link to Eventbrite on the ILP web site:
http://www.independentlabour.org.uk (firstname.lastname@example.org; 07799 502 937).
The Streets Ahead Scheme in Sheffield is the city wide highways maintenance project currently upgrading the condition of the city’s roads, pavements, street lights, bridges and other items on or around the streets.
A feedback survey has been re-launched with the aim of asking residents what they think about the upgrades that have been carried out across the city so far.
This survey is open until the 7th October with the results available in late Autumn.
All the team at the Streets Ahead are interested in any feedback you want to share.
You can complete the survey in less than 10 minutes at the following link:
Over the coming weeks your Birley Ward Labour Party will be conducting interviews with local Councillors so that we can get to know them better and find out what motivates them to get involved with community issues.
First, Denise Fox was interviewed.
Denise, why did you first want to become a Councillor?
I am passionate about helping community projects succeed. I also want to make things fairer for residents and help reduce inequality. Starting as a Trade Union representative, becoming a Councillor was the natural extension of the work I was already doing.
Jan Wilson, the leader of the Sheffield Council at the time, first approached me about standing; she said ‘we need strong women in our party’, words which I took as a compliment and that have stuck with me ever since.
What’s been your best moment as a Councillor?
When the new houses on Silkstone Road were completed. I believe in quality housing for everyone. It was a struggle to get that far but was really worth it when the work was done and local residents could move in.
I also love getting local school children involved with playing and singing music, I’m part of a music hub board which organises a concert at City Hall every year, I love watching them and it always brings a tear to my eye!
Do you have any hobbies?
Spending time with my family is a always a favourite pastime of mine, especially my grandchildren. I have also recently discovered running, which I’m really enjoying. It all started last year when I decided to enter the Great Yorkshire 10k Race for a local charity.
Having never run before I quickly realised I only had 10 weeks to get myself ready, which meant learning everything from scratch. It was hard work but I’m very proud to have completed it – and I’m now hooked and love running!
Part two of the interview with Denise will follow where we discuss her views on Sheffield, the Labour Party and balancing family life with serving the community.
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.
Cllr Bryan Lodge was pleased recently when he received a telephone call from a very grateful resident of Charnock who wished to thank her Birley Councillors for helping resolve her heating problem. In early October, the lady’s fire was reported as not working and a repair ordered. When the engineer called, it was realised that the fire was obsolete and beyond repair. The fire was removed and a large, empty hole was left behind. Due to a communications problem, it appears that a replacement fire wasn’t ordered and inspite of a number of calls, the resident was no further forward as we progressed in to November. In desperation, the lady contacted her councillors. “We managed to quickly establish the facts and arrange for a new fire and surround to be installed. An email confirmation from Sheffield Home was received that said the job had been completed and so we closed the contact. It was really pleasing to get a call from our constituent to thank us for everything we had done to resolve her problem” said Cllr Bryan Lodge “I generally think that people contact councillors when they’ve exhausted the usual options and seem to be getting nowhere so it’s always a great feeling when we get a good result. This was made all the better when this lady took the time to call and pass on her thanks.”
Your councillors are always happy to assist if you are experiencing problems with council services. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch, our details can be found on the links to the left.
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.”
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.”