AROUND 100 people gathered outside Sheffield Town Hall as MPs and bishops met to launch a petition over ‘unfair’ cuts to council funding.
Rt Rev Dr Steven Croft, Anglican Bishop of Sheffield and Rt Rev John Rawsthorne, Catholic Bishop of Hallam, gathered with Labour MPs, councillors and trade unionists, plus South Yorkshire’s Labour Police and Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright.
The Fair Deal For Sheffield campaign highlights how southern councils are receiving much smaller budget cuts than Sheffield and other large northern cities.
Sheffield’s budget cut between 2011 and 2015 is equivalent to around £200 per household compared with £40 at other authorities. Sheffield also has less to spend per pupil in school than more affluent areas.
Liberal Democrats argue that as part of the coalition they are delivering huge funding in capital projects such as electrification of the Midland Mainline, improvements to the M1 and the £2 billion Streets Ahead resurfacing programme – while there is much more money for school pupils from deprived backgrounds under its Pupil Premium scheme.
Sheffield Central Labour MP Paul Blomfield said: “I think the turnout for the launch has been a tremendous response – and we have seen people from a wide breadth of organisations giving their support.”
Mr Blomfield accused the Government of favouring Tory-voting areas, adding that capital investment ‘should not be at the expense of other services’.
He added that it was ‘too early’ to reveal what a Labour government would cut – although it would be a ‘fairer’ approach.
Mr Wright said: “Cuts should be slower – Labour was planning a 12 per cent saving from police funding under its deficit reduction programme which would have mean no cut in officers – instead of the coalition’s 20 per cent reduction.”
To sign the petition, visit A Fair Deal for Sheffield