Fight starts for a fair deal

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THE campaign launched today to fight for a fair share for Sheffield will resonate with many people in the city.

We are witnessing some of the harshest cuts in more than a generation.

Until this year most taxpayers and residents had been protected from frontline cuts to services with waste, bureaucracy and back-office functions identified in savings.

But there is little left to cut and the proposed £50m budget savings this year, with warnings of more to come in the next few years, will have a disproportionate effect on some people’s lives more than others.

Coupled with the proposed Government reforms, particularly the single benefit payment scheme, then the poor will find themselves worse off.

In Sheffield, the Fairness Commission set up by this council last year is about to report on its findings, coming up with a series of recommendations to try to address the imbalance in different parts of this city.

It has already identified, and will warn, that proposed changes could well have a greater impact on the more deprived people in this city.

And just as this city is hit by differentials in prosperity, so is this country.

The north-south divide is in danger of becoming cavernous, with the gaps in prosperity accentuated by Government reforms and cuts in council budgets.

This is why this newspaper supports the call for a debate in our council chamber – to focus on a real issue and to decide what should be done to address it and, if need be, to fight for a fairer deal.

Proving our point in league tables

SHEFFIELD’S secondary schools at last seem to be on the right track – with the city showing an impressive six point improvement in the 2012 league tables.

Matching the national average has been a target that’s proved elusive for years, but is within touching distance.

A similar performance this year would give a huge boost to everyone involved in education in the city.

This improvement is being driven by better results in parts of the city where teenagers need them most – Firth Park, Ecclesfield, Shirecliffe and on the Manor. But special congratulations must go to pupils and staff at Shiregreen’s Hinde House Secondary, where pass rates have leapt by 20 percentage points.

Headteacher Chris French says much of the credit must go to the students themselves, who are setting expectations high and believe there is nothing they cannot achieve.

With attitudes like that abroad in the city, the future looks bright indeed.