Bitter row over cuts

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A BITTER war of words has broken out in Westminster over cuts to Sheffield Council’s budget.

Five Labour MPs have signed a Commons motion accusing Hallam MP and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg of giving a false impression of the impact of spending reductions in the city.

Sheffield South East MP Clive Betts, who tabled the motion, also told the Commons the Lib Dem-controlled council is hiding the reality of the cuts in an attempt to win the local elections in May.

He warned it is inevitable that whichever party or parties control the council after the election will have to start quickly making additional cuts in expenditure in 2011.

The row centres on claims that the council is cutting only 270 jobs, a relatively small total compared to the much heavier 1,500 redundancies planned in Labour-controlled Leeds.

Mr Betts insists the council’s own website shows 731 jobs are going to go.

And he said the high level of out-sourcing of council services means many hundreds more jobs in the private, third and voluntary sectors will also be cut.

He said: “There are unspecified cuts in the council’s budget.”

But a spokesman for Mr Clegg dismissed the claims as scaremongering. Council leader Paul Scriven said: “This claim from local Labour MPs is particularly bizarre.

“Not one single Labour councillor voted against our budget proposal for next year. What’s more, Labour councillors didn’t even propose an alternative.

“All this reveals is if Labour get back into the Town Hall they will take the ‘slash and burn’ approach.

“Labour will decimate local services so they can blame it on the Coalition.”