Council sets its priorities

Shaffaq Mohammed
Shaffaq Mohammed
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SHEFFIELD’S new Labour council administration has formalised its priorities for the coming year – with a pledge to create apprenticeships for school leavers, to reverse budget cuts for Sure Start children’s centres and reinstate funding for 10 police community support officers.

The ruling party – which is having to look how to find around £50 million of budget cuts for next year – also pledged to ‘develop innovative ways of delivering services to protect those on the front line and avoid a hike in council tax.

Sheffield Council leader, Coun Julie Dore, said: “We want to be an authority that stands up for Sheffielders and for those people who need a voice.

“The council will deliver on its commitments to protect our communities and do all we can to improve the quality of life for people by maintaining and protecting those areas of service that people rely on and can have the greatest impact. We’re not complacent and know that difficult decisions will continue to have to be made.

“We’ve decided that we must look at all areas of our spending and how we can deliver the right kind of services in the right way with the support of local people. We will continue to develop these over the next few weeks.“

Council chief executive, John Mothersole, added: “We’re working through how we can deliver responsive services that improve the quality of life for people in the city in the light of the Council’s new direction.”

But Labour has faced criticism from Lib Dem councillors for voting against a motion the opposition group proposed at a full council meeting, which committed the authority to keeping weekly bin collections. Instead, Labour wants to review the waste service to ‘ensure best value for money’.

Lib Dems also hit out at a decision to make a £250 pay rise for the council’s lowest-paid staff be for one year only, when they proposed it should be carried out every year.

Their leader, Coun Shaffaq Mohammed, said: “I’m disappointed that every single Labour councillor voted against keeping the weekly bin collection. During the debate they refused to rule out cutting the number of bin collections and have even included it in their review. Our fear is that this is just a smokescreen for Labour to introduce fortnightly bin collections.

“We fear that they will force this agenda on local people without any consultation.”

Shadow cabinet member for finance, Coun Simon Clement-Jones, added: “Before the election Labour promised to support the Lib Dem policy of a £250 annual increase for low-paid staff. But despite the plan being approved in the budget, Labour have now reneged on their promise and announced the £250 will be a one-off.

“Members of the local trade unions in Sheffield, who donated thousands of pounds to ensure Labour gained control of the council, must be feeling utterly betrayed.”