What next for city council?

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LAST December when the Government revealed it expected austerity to continue for a further three years, Sheffield Council leader Julie Dore predicted that the cuts it would have to find would mean the end of the council as we knew it.

We did not know what she meant by those prophetic words. Were they exaggerating the state of the funding crisis or were they just Labour rhetoric against a Coalition Government this council does not approve of.

Today we have a better indication of what she meant.

Documents have been leaking out about what was being looked at, from the proposed closure of Don Valley Stadium, a root and branch review of the library service and the proposed closure of Stocksbridge Leisure Centre.

But these were just a drop in the ocean. A list as long as the proverbial arm has been released detailing cuts Labour propose introducing in the coming financial year.

It doesn’t stop there. Coun Dore predicts that within the next decade services and facilities will come under such financial pressures that the authority will be reduced to providing purely the services it has to legally perform.

Over the past two years we have seen council jobs go and functions it carried out merged or cut back with little real impact on council tax payers. The most visible sign was the move to fortnightly bin collections.

Today’s list of cuts show that there is nowhere else to go and we will start to feel the squeeze in our everyday lives – on parking charges and permits, allotments, council tax benefits and city centre event budgets.

There is a glimmer of a silver lining and that is that council tax will be frozen again. This raises the whole issue of governance for this council. While the tax may be frozen we will be paying for less. And if Coun Dore’s predictions over the next decade ring true, then the council will have to work hard to justify those charges.

Home of snooker

SHEFFIELD and the World Snooker Championship has always been the perfect marriage and the couple should renew their vows.

Now that the BBC has extended its contract to broadcast the sport’s main tournaments, snooker should commit to Sheffield. This is its spiritual home which has played host to the most dramatic snooker moment ever, Dennis Taylor’s black ball win over Steve Davis. It has been beautiful relationship which has seen off an almost annual threat from China. Now the happy couple can create more magical memories as snooker and Sheffield show just how much they love each other.