Labour urged to make budget ideas public

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OPPOSITION Labour politicians on Sheffield Council are under pressure to reveal their stance on ruling Lib Dems’ budget plans – which they could defeat.

Labour have outvoted Lib Dems, who are the largest party but do not have a majority, on many occasions in the council chamber since the Lib Dems lost overall control nine months ago.

Hundreds more jobs, on top of 731 being axed, could be in the balance if the opposition group changes a key part of the budget plans to save £84 million in 2011/12.

It involves freezing incremental pay rises for staff – and if the proposal did not go ahead, £10 million extra savings would be required – equivalent to 300 more job losses or other heavy cuts elsewhere

Labour’s alternative budget could be passed in place of the Lib Dems’ proposals with support from the Green Party and using the Labour Lord Mayor’s casting vote.

But it will not reveal details of its plans until the full council meeting where the budget for 2011/12 is decided on March 4.

Jon Mordecai, Sheffield chairman of trade union Unison, called on Labour to make it clear as soon as possible whether it intends to keep increment freezes.

He said: “I would expect to know their stance. Our members want to know.”

Former Sheffield Council leader and Brightside and Hillsborough MP David Blunkett urged Labour to let the Lib Dems’ budget pass and instead look at making changes if they win power in May.

He said: “My advice to the Labour group would be not to unravel the Lib Dems’ budget and let it pass without major changes. If they take power, Labour could then hold an immediate review.”

Lib Dem leader Coun Paul Scriven accused Labour of “not being honest with the people of Sheffield”.

He said: “Jobs and livelihoods depend upon what budget the council sets.

“Labour have been working on their plans since October. This is not about political games, it is a serious issue.”

Sheffield Council’s Labour group would not comment on their budget plans.