Sheffield’s £84m cuts: Art gallery to close, parking costs to rise and policing hit

Graves Art Gallery
Graves Art Gallery
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Graves Art Gallery could be the highest-profile casualty of Sheffield Council’s proposals to make £84 million of cuts over the coming year, The Star can reveal.

A second respite care home - Kirkwood, used by elderly people - is also facing the axe along with Rushey Meadow for disabled children, the closure of which has already been revealed.

Other plans involve cutting park ranger numbers from 22 to 16, axing 25 Police Community Support Officers, slashing mobile libraries from four to one, and increasing charges for parking and social services.

Sandra Newton, chair of Museums Sheffield - which runs Graves Gallery - insisted “no firm decisions” have been made but said absorbing the £328,000 cut in its £2.3 million annual council funding would be “almost impossible without reducing services”.

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Savings would come from reducing “staff, exhibitions or buildings”, she said - and closing Graves Gallery, which houses high-value art and other treasures bequeathed to the city, is one option being considered.

Ms Newton said discussions were continuing with the council, aimed at reducing the size of its cut and saving the gallery.

Museums Sheffield fears closure of the gallery could harm Sheffield’s chance of becoming one of nine museums of national importance, eligible for extra funding and prestigious exhibitions.

Sheffield Council leader Paul Scriven said: “Closing Graves Gallery is not my preferred option. We will meet Museums Sheffield to look at innovative, alternative ways they could save money.”

Other changes in the council’s budget are a rise in adult social care and City Wide Alarm Service fees, and some parking charges - for on-street spaces in parking permit zones - doubling to 40p an hour.

Other parking charges are to increase by 10 per cent and fees will be brought in for the first time at Hillsborough, Graves, Endcliffe and Millhouses parks’ car parks.

Free on-street parking on Sundays and Bank Holidays will remain.

Burial fees are going up five per cent and cremation fees two per cent.

All council departments are facing a 15 per cent funding cut, apart from children’s social services - which will be protected - and adult social services, having a 7.5 per cent cut.

Schools will receive increased funding to take on services such as careers advice.

But there are to be no mass closures of libraries, public toilets or children’s centres.

The council says axing respite centres will be compensated for by providing places at other facilities, and more people having personalised care budgets.

Cuts are proposed in opening hours of household waste recycling centres and libraries - though council leader Paul Scriven promised library hours will be reduced by “only two to three hours a week”.

Creative Sheffield, the agency which attracts development to the city, will see 52 per cent of its budget disappear with loss of Yorkshire Forward funding, and a further 15 per cent cut to the council’s grant - but Coun Scriven said its savings would come from taking the service under council control and cutting managers from six to two.

City Ambassadors will be cut from 20 to 15, funding for renewable energy projects and a scheme to promote green initiatives will be axed, while City Stewardship, providing work placements for disadvantaged youths, will have fewer places.

But the 101 number for reporting anti-social behaviour will stay, and the council’s £28m highways budget will be unchanged, along with £2.1m given to Community Assemblies for neighbourhood projects.

Four remaining council leisure facilities - Heeley pool, Graves Tennis and Leisure Centre, Stocksbridge and Springs Leisure Centres - will transfer to Sheffield International Venues. SIV is taking a £410,000 cut in its grant, and is proposing to close Woodbourn Athletics Stadium.

Sheffield Theatres is losing £104,000, which chief executive Dan Bate, said could come from extending the Lyceum’s summer closure and putting on shows attracting bigger audiences. Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust is absorbing its budget cut by charging weekend visitors to Kelham Island.

Coun Scriven said: “This budget ensures services will continue to be provided and we will not go down the route of slash and burn.”