More council cuts in spending review

Chancellor George Osborne.
Chancellor George Osborne.
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Theatres, museums and sports services could face further cuts – after it was announced Sheffield Council will need to make a further £25 million of savings by 2015/16.

Chancellor George Osborne revealed his latest spending review in the House of Commons yesterday, which will include a cut of 10 per cent to the council resource budget to come into effect after the next general election.

That means Sheffield’s Labour-controlled Council will need to find another £25million of cuts – on top of the £215 million it will have already been made since 2011.

Coun Julie Dore, council leader, warned Sheffield is approaching the ‘tipping point’, where only statutory services will be provided by the council.

She said: “My biggest fear overall for Sheffield is that the statutory services we have to provide will come first and that means discretionary services will face the cuts.

“That means things like the extent to which we provide library services, grass cutting in parks and our culture and sports service could all be seriously at risk.”

Coun Dore also accused the Conservative Government of ‘plucking percentages out of the air’ and ‘political scaremongering’.

She said: “These cuts did not need to be announced for another 12 months and have been announced now to frighten people.

“It’s totally unnecessary and there has been no consultation with local authorities.”

So far, the cuts from central government have spelled the end of Don Valley Stadium, due to close for the final time in September, and has seen Sheffield Council withdrawal its £400,000 subsidy for Stocksbridge Leisure Centre.

There have also been 600 public service jobs axed, cuts of £3.5m to children’s centres, parking charges introduced on Sundays and Bank Holidays and threats to the future of 14 of 27 community libraries.

Budgets for Sheffield Theatres, Museums Sheffield, the Showroom Cinema, the Tramlines, Off The Shelf, Cliffhanger and Children’s festivals and Fright Night have also already been cut previously.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Sheffield Hallam MP,said the Government were continuing to make ‘difficult choices’.

He said: “Liberal Democrats in Government have delivered a spending review to help us build a stronger economy and a fairer society, so every person in Sheffield and across Britain is able to get on in life.

“We have to continue to make difficult choices to deal with the horrendous mess left us by Labour.

“We will continue to be firm in our commitment to tackling the deficit, but fair in the way we go about it.

“While making those difficult choices, we have delivered on Liberal Democrat priorities on investment and improving our public services.”

However, Richard Wright, executive director of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, said businesses would find the 2015/16 cuts ‘difficult to deal with’.

He said: “We cannot ignore the fact these cuts will put further pressure on local government budgets.”

“In business we’ve met this pressure before, faced with increased international competition for many years which put ever increasing pressure on our cost base.

“These changes are hard to make because they require us to think out of our comfort zones, and in the public sector they affect many more peoples’ personal lives, but I see no option but to do them or we will never get on the road to growth that is ultimately the only real solution to our problems.”