Hackenthorpe Tenants and Community Association- a Clairification

Please see below a combined statement from the Birley Ward Councillors, Beighton Ward Councillors and Clive Betts MP providing in response to an article published in The Star.

In a recent Viewpoint published in ‘The Star’,  concerns were expressed around the suspension of the Hackenthorpe Tenants and Community Association (HTACA). The piece finished by making an inference that local councillors from Beighton and Birley wards, plus Clive Betts MP, appear to be disinterested due to there being no elections this year. Nothing could be further from the truth. The councillors and MP have been working with the association for many years but have been more closely involved recently as the problems surrounding the TACA’s operation have unfolded.

For clarity, a number of facts regarding the association need to be understood:  HTACA, covering a vast area that spans both Beighton and Birley Wards, has been in a state of turmoil for a number of years. Over two years ago, following changes to the committee and officers of the association, an Independent Auditor was asked to conduct a review of the association’s previous year’s accounts and identified some discrepancies that required further investigation. This highlighted additional areas of concern including items of expenditure of the association, the commissioning and awarding of works conducted in the gardens of the association’s office, and around individual expense claims. Further instances of fraud were uncovered and police proceedings followed. After a period in which the committee and officers tried to stabilise and rebuild the TACA, the Chair, Secretary, Treasurer and some other committee members took the decision to resign. They cited problems within the committee, expressing concern that some committee members were making it difficult to conduct the functions and operation of the association. They effectively closed the association, returning the keys of the TACA premises and transferring the balance of the accounts to Sheffield Homes to hold in trust. Due to the difficulties the association had experienced, and a number of outstanding issues that had still to be resolved, the Local Area Board of Sheffield Homes (now Council Housing Service) concluded that a full and frank investigation in to the association was the best way to resolve the issues and plot a way forward. This course of action received the backing and support of the local councillors, Clive Betts MP, the Cabinet Member for Homes and Neighbourhoods and his Cabinet Assistant. Consequently, a panel made up of independent tenants that include the former Chair of Sheffield Homes, plus Cllr Tony Damns, Cabinet Assistant, and the Council Housing Service Area Manager, is currently conducting the investigation. As this complex investigation is still ongoing, and until the investigation is completed, the association remains suspended and the Council Housing Service holds tenant’s levies.

This is a difficult time for the TACA and everyone involved in trying to resolve the matter. Whilst we recognise the frustration experienced by the ongoing suspension of the TACA, we are disappointed with a piece that attempts to paint a picture of disinterest and apathy.  We are united in our desire to ensure that a properly constituted and well-run organisation emerges from this process; an organisation that is fit for purpose and is focused on its members.

In the meantime, tenants and residents across the Hackenthorpe, Birley, Frecheville and Scowerdons estates continue to receive support and assistance from their elected councillors and MP through regular surgeries or by contacting them directly.

Cllr Helen Mirfin-Boukouris, Cllr Ian Saunders, Cllr Chris Rosling-Joseph
Members for Beighton ward

Cllr Karen Mcgowan, Cllr Denise Fox, Cllr Bryan Lodge
Members for Birley ward

Clive Betts MP
Sheffield South East

Councillors Visit Rother Valley Church in Hackenthorpe

Cllr Bryan Lodge, Cllr Denise Fox, Chris Jeavons (Senior Pastor) and Cllr Karen McGowan outside Rother Valley Church on Spa View Road
Cllr Bryan Lodge, Cllr Denise Fox, Chris Jeavons (Senior Pastor) and Cllr Karen McGowan outside Rother Valley Church on Spa View Road

Birley Ward Cllrs Karen McGowan, Denise Fox and Bryan Lodge took up the invitation to visit the Rother Valley Church on Spa View Road in Hackenthorpe and see for themselves the various activities that take place there. Most people will be aware of the building but not necessarily the range of events that the church supports. In addition to the regular Sunday Worship, the church hosts Toddler Groups, ‘Messy Church’ -(activities for families), Youth events, Craft Days and Coffee mornings. The church also provides a Drop-In Centre with toasties and hot drinks. “It was an interesting visit where we really got a feel for how the church works within the community” commented Cllr Lodge. The invitation came from Chris Jeavons, Senior Pastor, who saw it as an opportunity to seek the Councillors views on their ambitions plans to become a focal point for the community.  “Chris explained their aspirations on providing a community cafe, along with improved facilities for children and young people” said Cllr Fox,”I was pleasantly surprised by what we heard”. The church has occupied the site for around 17 years and the range of facilities is surprising. Cllr McGowan said “I’ve been past the church so many times but have never been inside. It’s a lot bigger than it seems from the outside. Before we went into the building, Chris spoke of their plans to install a soft play area and I envisaged it to be of a medium size. Having seen inside, I think it’ll be big enough for adults to enjoy it, not just children!”.

Further information about the church and it’s activities can be found on their website:  www.rothervalleychurch.co.uk

Your Councillors are always happy to visit community groups, schools, churches, etc within the Birley ward. If you would like to visit you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch

20mph Zone For Charnock

Charnock 20mph zoneFormal consultation on the Charnock Estate 20mph zone begins this week with the distribution to all homes in the area of information about the proposals. Delivery will take place between the 15th – 17th May and asks for comments back to the council by 7th June. In addition to the proposed 20mph limit throughout the estate, measures to improve safety around the school are to be introduced with tougher controls on vehicles parking on the zig zag lines.

Look out for your copy of the leaflet coming through your door. If you have any comments or concerns, please feed these in to the consultation, through the details on the form.

Further information regarding 20mph zones can be found by clicking on the following link: https://www.sheffield.gov.uk/SCC-Home/roads/works/schemes/new-20-mph-speed-limits

A Fair Deal For Sheffield

logo

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

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.

In a Rush to Clear Litter!

A local resident raised concerns about the litter and general debris that is accumulating in the car park of the former Frecheville pub. He contacted his local councillors as he felt that the problem was likely to encourage further fly tipping if it wasn’t dealt with. “There is a piece of legislation, the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act, that gives local authorities powers to ensure land owners tackle litter and fly tipping on their land if it is becoming a blight” commented Cllr Lodge “I raised this with the SE Community Assembly team who passed this site on to Tommy Rush, the assembly’s Environment Protection Officer. I’m pleased that Tommy has made contact with the current owners who have pledged to conduct a clean up”.  The clean up is anticipated to be done around the 18th December.

If you are aware of similar problems then please pass them on to your local councillors.

Grateful Thanks!

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.

Mindless Vandalism at Frecheville Pond

After celebrating the completition of the works to improve the pond, Birley Councillors and members of the Friends group were deeply saddened by recent mindless vandalism that has seen bins ripped up and a recycling bin pushed in to the pond.  Cllr Bryan Lodge said “It’s such a shame when all this hard work is spoilt by idiots who have no respect for the pond or the local community. I really hope that these hooligans can be found and would urge anyone who has any information on who is responsible to report it to the police. This can be done through 101 or through any of your local councillors if you feel more comfortable using that route” He added “We can’t let this sort of behaviour ruin local facilities – please, if you know who is responsible, pass it on to the police”

Christmas Comes Early in Hackenthorpe

Last Saturday saw Christmas celebrations arrive early in Hackenthorpe when the Community Centre held their christmas Fair.  On the first Saturday of the month, your Labour Councillors hold a surgery in the centre during the coffee morning but this month was a little special. ” The coffee mornings are always well attended but there were many more people around this month” said Cllr Karen McGowan. The centre was trimmed up and festive music was playing throughout. ” All three of us enjoy coming to the coffee mornings as there’s always a good atmosphere. With the carol singing and decorations, it had a real Christmasy feel. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves” added Cllr Bryan Lodge. The centre had a number of stalls along with refreshments, with the ladies in the kitchen doing a roaring trade in bacon sandwiches and hot drinks. ”  Next time you’re around the shops on the first Saturday of the month, why not call in for a drink and a chat? We’d love to see you” said Cllr Denise Fox

Work Completed on Frecheville Pond

Celebrating the completion of the works at Frecheville Pond – Dave Taylor from Amey and Cllr Bryan Lodge join Leon Pedryc and Alastair Daniel from the Friends of Frecheville Park and Pond

The Friends of Frecheville Park and Pond are celebrating the completion of works to the pond that will protect this asset for many years to come. Damage to the paths had resulted in large areas of the pond being fenced off, whilst leaking water had weakened the embankment near the community centre.  The works have seen the former ‘hard’ edges of the pond softened to provide a gentle, more natural surround to the pond, with new paths installed to improve access around the perimeter. “I’m really pleased that working with the Friends group, Parks and Countryside and Amey (as the contractor), we’ve managed to get this work done on this hidden gem that means everyone will be able to enjoy the area for many years to come” said Cllr Lodge  “It’s looking so much better and I can’t wait to see the difference next year as the grass grows and nature takes it’s course”

BATTLE OF THE BANDS IN BIRLEY

Young Music Sheffield’s most exciting new Social Enterprise visited the South East Community Assembly area in November to engage young people in live music. Young Music worked in collaboration with Birley Community College to introduce the area to Young Music’s Battle of Bands Citywide Schools Programme. Birley Community College opened its doors for the first time on a dark cold wet evening and there was some serious competition between bands performing. This event was the culmination of weeks of work teaching young people how to organise and run music events. A fantastic evening of live music took place with the nine bands battling it out to win the coveted prize of being crowned Birleys Battle of the Bands winner and secure a place into the Young Music Citywide final which will take place in March. After some fantastic performances Trust Within was declared the winner and progresses to next years final. Natalie Beard Young Music’s events manager said “A key part of our work is to provide bands and artists under the age of 18 with a performance space, currently bands under the age of 18 struggle to access music venues as most have age restricted policies only allowing adults to attend”. Birley Councillor Bryan Lodge said “It’s brilliant that we have been able to have such a talented pool of music advisors coming to Birley to engage and work with our young people and the battle night was both innovative and creative. This is exactly the type of positive activities that young people have told us they wanted and we have delivered”