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’.
Your local Labour Councillors find it ironic that in the context of Olympic legacy Sheffield has to consider withdrawing council subsidy from Don Valley Stadium. Councillor Karen McGowan says “There is no revenue funding for Olympic legacy to support this facility and the council has to find the money from within our ever decreasing funding from Government. The cuts the Government are making to Sheffield and other cities in the North are unfair. Sheffield Council has had to slash £140m from its budgets in the past two years, this year we have to identify a further £50m of cuts to balance our budget. These unfair Government cuts mean we have to take some tough decision in order to make the huge savings across Sheffield”. Councillor Isobel Bowler, Cabinet Member for Culture, Sport and Leisure wrote to the Government in the summer to notify them that Sheffield would have difficulty in continuing to subsidise this venue – a venue which we consider to be a regional resource and the financial burden of which can no longer be met solely by Sheffield council tax payers. No central funding has been made available. Councillor Denise Fox says “if Nick Clegg wanted it to stay open why didn’t he step in and help at this stage!”
In terms of ensuring that there are excellent training facilities for athletes in the future if Don Valley were to close we propose to re-open the Woodbourn Road venue which has a high quality track and other outdoor athletics training facilities. We have identified the capital funding required. The running costs are approximately 10% of the cost of Don Valley Stadium. This venue could be managed by our two city athletics clubs and the Council has been in discussions with them in the run up to bringing forward the Don Valley Stadium proposal. Councillor Bryan Lodge says “We have been advised that a re-opened Woodbourn Road can meet the needs of athletics training. The indoor training facility at the English Institute of Sport remains open. What we lose with Don Valley Stadium is the ability to hold major athletics events”. Sheffield have been outgunned for the next few years by other cities such as Birmingham (these events require the council to put in money – other cities were able to offer a more attractive package than we could). Once the Olympic stadium re-opens we see no realistic prospect of being able to compete with that venue (nor the Commonwealth facility in Glasgow). We will continue to have high profile world class events coming to the city – not least as you will be aware the Tour de France in 2014.