Councillors’ ‘shock’ vote is slammed

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SHEFFIELD Council leader Paul Scriven has launched a stinging attack on Labour after losing a key vote on housing policy.

Lib Dems run the authority because they have the most councillors, although they do not have a majority, but were defeated when Green Party councillors and the lone independent sided with Labour.

The decision at a full council meeting means £800,000 of Sheffield Homes’ £29.9 million budget for 2011/12, set aside for community projects, will instead be absorbed into the management company’s general budget to fund “improved tenants’ services”.

Lib Dems say that could mean Sheffield Homes will not proceed with efficiency savings.

Last year, over 264 community projects benefited from £600,000 handed out through the ‘Your Community, Your Choice’ scheme, under which decisions about how the money was distributed were made at open meetings.

But minority party councillors sided with Labour because some Your Community, Your Choice meetings were attended by only a few dozen people and Sheffield City Wide Forum of tenants’ associations had passed a motion calling for the scheme’s funding to be moved to Sheffield Homes’ main budget.

Lib Dem council leader, Coun Paul Scriven, said: “I’m shocked Labour and the Greens have axed funding for dozens of community projects.

“These projects would have brought countless benefits to tenants.

“There are serious questions over the legitimacy of this decision.

“Tenants have not been consulted and none of the organisations who have now lost out knew funding was in danger.”

He added: “Labour have no policies of their own.

“They are being dishonest with the people of Sheffield - every motion they put forward at the council is simply sticking two fingers up at government cuts, yet locally and nationally they will not say what they would cut.

“They had plans to make £72bn of cuts.

“The Coalition is planning only 10 per cent more, so most are what Labour would have had to do.”

But Angela Smith, Labour MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge, replied: “When it gets close to the next General Election, Labour will have a programme. It’s not our job in opposition to spell out what we would do if we were in power now.”