Political row over the cash crisis with Sheffield’s major venues

Labour has been accused of overseeing “epic financial blunders” with the cash crisis at Sheffield’s major facilities and leisure centres.

Monday, 25th November 2019, 1:00 pm
Updated Monday, 25th November 2019, 3:41 pm
Coun Simon Clement-Jones with Ponds Forge visitors
Coun Simon Clement-Jones with Ponds Forge visitors

The council has bailed out Sheffield City Trust, and its management arm Sheffield International Venues, with emergency funding.

It gave £1m earlier this year, will subside it by £2.8m annually and will also put another £3.5m towards health and safety costs and maintenance at facilities.

The trust had problems managing and reporting cash flow and finances, which the Lib Dems say is a concern.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Coun Simon Clement-Jones, shadow cabinet member for finance, said: “Sheffield Council has committed millions of taxpayers’ money to rescue the drowning trust from cash flow issues and buildings falling down.

“We are concerned about the trust’s ability to manage their own finances and how they were allowed to get into such a state of disarray by the Labour council.

“Once again people are paying for a series of epic financial blunders by this Labour council who have had their heads in the sand over the dire financial situation of the trust.

“Sheffield institutions have been left to decay whilst they did nothing. This is a reminder of the legacy of Labour’s arrogance and financial incompetence echoing down the years.”

Labour said the leisure industry had been hit by austerity and the trust was in a difficult situation.

Coun Mary Lea, cabinet member for culture, parks and leisure, said: “What the Liberal Democrats fail to acknowledge is that Sheffield City Trust is an independent organisation, but Labour took the decision that the council must invest in the trust in the short term to safeguard its future and the wonderful facilities provided throughout the city.

“We are working closely with them to establish urgent issues and have stabilised the financial position for the next three years. This will make sure all facilities remain open and allow essential work to be completed.

“Labour has invested in major sporting facilities which have been of such great benefit to the health and wellbeing of people. And it is through these sporting facilities that we have attracted major sporting events to the city, most recently the Invictus Games and Special Olympics, and produced sporting heroes such as Jessica Ennis and Nicola Adams.

“We are working on a long term fundamental review of leisure services to ensure they are sustainable for the next generation, and the outcome of this review will go to the public.”

Simon Clement-Jones is standing as a Lib Dem candidate in the Sheffield Heeley constituency in the general election. The other candidates are Louise Haigh (Lab); Paul Turpin (Green); Gordon Gregory (Con) and Tracy Knowles (Brexit Party)