Anger over £2.2m work on Sheffield Town Hall

Sheffield Town hall
Sheffield Town hall
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plANS to revamp meeting rooms Sheffield Town Hall at a cost of £2.2 million have been approved by councillors - despite them having to make £55 million of cuts to services.

The project is to take place during 2013/14 and follows a £1.1 million refurbishment of the roof, wiring and lifts at the Grade I-listed building.

Sheffield Council says the decision to revamp Town Hall meeting rooms is part of a strategy to save £2.4 million a year by spending less money renting offices and meeting rooms elsewhere.

But the decision to allocate so much money for the project at a time of massive cuts and job losses has been attacked by opposition Liberal Democrats.

Coun Shaffaq Mohammed, Lib Dem group leader, said: “It’s shocking an eyewatering £2,180,000 of taxpayers’ money has been earmarked to be spent on this unnecessary luxury at a time when the Labour council is proposing to close dementia centres and end other key services.

“There is nothing wrong with the meeting rooms as they are.

“At a time when money is tight this kind of spending should not be a priority.”

However, Chris Jenkinson, organiser for trade union Unison, the biggest union among Town Hall staff, said: “The difficulty with local government is money like this could only be spent on capital projects and not services.

“The Town Hall is an old building and the meeting rooms have to be fit for purpose to enable democracy to function.”

A council spokesman said the upgrade of Town Hall rooms is part of its office accommodation strategy, approved last August, which involves moving out of 43 different leased office buildings and centralising staff at the Town Hall, Howden House and Moorfoot.

Officers say the change will save £2.4 million per year.

The spokesman said: “Full details of the work to be carried out have yet to be decided, but work will be required on the listed building to create more meeting rooms and avoid the need to hire external meeting spaces – saving the council and local taxpayers money.”