Group leader hits back at ‘1980s’ jibe

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SHEFFIELD Council’s Labour group leader Julie Dore has turned on Nick Clegg for suggesting victory for her party in the local elections could risk the return of 1980s-style conflict with the Government over cuts.

The Deputy Prime Minister and Hallam MP warned the opposition party could ‘take us back to the 1980s, to reassert the old-style class war’. Instead he urged voters to keep the Lib Dems in power, who he said have a ‘constructive’ relationship with ministers in the coalition.

When Thatcher was in power, Sheffield’s Labour-run council resisted the heavy cuts of the Tory Government and flew the red flag above the Town Hall. The area was dubbed the ‘People’s Republic of South Yorkshire’.

But Coun Dore told The Star Labour policy would be about “fighting for the best deal for Sheffield” if they came into power.

She said local Conservatives have offered to put her in contact with Tory coalition ministers if Labour take charge of the Town Hall - and that she would lobby them to further the interests of the city.

Coun Dore, whose party needs to gain just three seats to take control of Sheffield Council, ruled out a return to any ‘ideological battle’ over cuts.

But she added: “What we would be doing is pointing out the error of their ways.

“We will be telling the Government that it’s not the right time to be making such deep savings. It’s all very well for the Lib Dems to warn about us not co-operating. When the Labour Government was in power, they were hardly co-operative. They refused to implement policies like free swimming for children and pensioners - a scheme which was even introduced by Conservative-run councils.

“The Lib Dems also turned down the chance to take part in a pilot scheme to provide free school meals for all primary school children.”

She added: “I’d tell Nick Clegg to grow up. He criticised a Labour council for holding a meeting in a luxury hotel to discuss cuts - then chose the Hilton to launch his party’s local election campaign in Sheffield, whereas we chose to do it out in public, in a park. Every time he comes to Sheffield, he’s behind closed doors. It’s like he is afraid to meet the public.”