Union last stand as cuts passed

Raising voices: People of all ages protested.               Pictures: Roger Nadal.

Raising voices: People of all ages protested. Pictures: Roger Nadal.

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ALMOST 200 trade unionists gathered to stage a final protest in opposition to Sheffield Council’s £84 million budget savings - but the plans were approved by councillors.

Placard-waving public workers at the Town Hall blew whistles and chanted against 273 job losses and service cuts.

Ruling Lib Dems had their proposals approved after the opposition Labour group declined to put forward alternative plans, which could have been passed with support of the two Greens and lone independent.

The vote was taken following a heated debate within the council chamber yesterday.

Lib Dem council leader Coun Paul Scriven banged his fists as he made a passionate speech slamming Labour councillors for criticising the council without coming up with their own budget.

He told them: “You are abdicating your political responsibility. You are letting down the people who voted for you.”

Coun Scriven criticised Labour for claiming they did not have full information to come up with a budget - when Labour’s leadership had been meeting senior officers since last year to discuss council finances.

Coun Scriven criticised plans - outlined by Labour if they take power - to reverse budget cuts to Sure Start centres by taking money from schools’ budgets.

Labour say they would use the city’s economic growth fund, currently in reserves, to create apprenticeships, reduce cuts to care payments, and save Police Community Support Officers.

But Labour opposition leader Coun Julie Dore angrily replied: “The devil of your budget is in the detail. You haven’t told the public about all the cuts you are going to make. We have the figure of £1.3m from libraries but with no detail - what does it mean?”

Her deputy, Coun Bryan Lodge, added: “Let’s look at the Lib Dems’ priorities.

“The Lib Dems have rolled over and accepted cuts to the highways PFI scheme. They are cutting PCSOs. What about young people? They have supported the EMA cuts and raising student fees.”

Green Coun Rob Murphy said: “Lib Dems have an ideological fervour for cuts while Labour were proposing ones bigger than Thatcher’s. We are the only party opposed to all cuts.”

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