SHEFFIELD Council’s new leader has pledged not to take the electorate for granted after Labour’s crushing win at the local elections - and revealed the party has abandoned its ‘favoured areas’ policy.
Julie Dore gave more details of the challenges facing her new administration after sweeping to power on May 5.
Labour has a 14-seat majority, the biggest held by any administration in recent years, including those of leaders Paul Scriven, Jan Wilson or Peter Moore.
But Coun Dore said: “The fact we have a massive majority doesn’t mean to say that we are going to take the electorate for granted.”
She said Labour’s main focus will be working with business to create new jobs to replace those lost in recent years, including creation of apprenticeships for young people.
“The council will pay for them and invite companies to take them on,” she said.
She admitted she faces a tough year, with many of the £84 million cuts approved by the outgoing Lib Dems still to kick in, while preparations must start on making £50m savings from next year’s budget.
Her administration is planning to reinstate funding for SureStart children’s centres and Police Community Support Officers.
Another priority involves a review of early years provision. Coun Dore said: “We currently have a system where care is provided by voluntary, community and faith sector organisations, the council and nursery schools.
“We need to develop a co-ordinated strategy. We also need to look at youth service provision - the Lib Dems axed Connexions and left careers advice to schools but not all those who need the service are in school.”
Challenges include renegotiating the council’s works department contract, currently held by Kier and which expires early next year, and beginning the £1.2 billion highways private finance initiative project to resurface crumbling roads.
Coun Dore revealed the party’s old Closing The Gap strategy - dubbed ‘favoured areas’ by the Lib Dems because funding was prioritised towards certain, deprived wards - is not being reintroduced. Problems will be tackled city-wide .
“Everywhere’s our favoured area now. Where there are issues to tackle, we will look at them in all areas, be they Burngreave or Totley.”