Business policy attacked

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Businesses are being shown an ‘ambivalent and sometimes hostile’ attitude by Sheffield Council which is holding back development, new jobs and economic growth, claims Nick Clegg.

The Deputy Prime Minister has been joined by former council leader Paul Scriven in launching an attack on ruling Labour councillors.

Sheffield Hallam MP Mr Clegg and Mr Scriven have spoken out after a 17 per cent increase in the cost of on-street parking charges, a proposal to ban all ice cream vans over five years old and the refusal of planning permission for a Next Home store at Meadowhall.

The Lib Dem pair have also criticised the council for its lukewarm response to Ikea’s proposals for a store.

Mr Clegg said: “The current ambivalence and sometimes hostility towards the needs of business are not good for Sheffield.

“The council spends all its time pointing the finger of blame at the Government for cuts - but decisions on parking, ice cream vans, Next and Ikea are up to them.

“Next and Ikea are showing they have confidence in Sheffield and the council should respond in kind.”

Mr Scriven added: “When I became leader we did all we could to make the city business-friendly. I ensured we set up an advice service and got business people to inform our economic policy.

“However, the latest silliness over Next, then Ikea and the ice cream van ban makes me wonder what image of Sheffield the present council wants to showcase.

“The new Moor markets are a sign of what can be achieved when business and council work together. I should know - I went up to Edinburgh to meet Scottish Widows as one of the last things I did as leader to make sure it happened.”

Coun Leigh Bramall, Sheffield Council’s cabinet member for business, skills and growth, said: “What they are saying is nonsense. On Ikea, we welcome them wanting to invest in Sheffield and will work with them through the planning process.

“Regarding parking, while we have increased on-street fees, we are cutting the cost of our car parks.

“We have never had a better relationship with businesses - we offer funding through the Keep Sheffield Working scheme, we are paying for apprenticeships and there is the JESSICA loan scheme being offered through the Sheffield City Region to help companies .”