Fractious meeting between councillors as Sheffield Futures contract is paused

Councillor Julie DoreCouncillor Julie Dore
Councillor Julie Dore | JPIMedia Resell
A contract for youth services in Sheffield has been paused following a fractious meeting and tense vote between councillors.

Chairman Mick Rooney called the scrutiny meeting to an end, despite having other agenda items, after two and half hours, saying it had "left a sour taste in his mouth".

Council Leader Julie Dore, who does not normally attend scrutiny boards, defended her decision not to renew the 15-year contract with Sheffield Futures.

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She wants the service to be brought back in-house and says the council would invest an extra £2m.

But the Lib Dems, and Green councillor Alison Teal, repeatedly challenged her about the lack of detail with the new contract.

The Lib Dems are also concerned about a multi-million pension pot liability which will be transferred back to the council.

The scrutiny board was asked to vote on what to do next and Labour was overruled by six votes to five.

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Labour councillor Fran Johnson abstained while Labour councillor Jim Steinke had left the meeting 10 minutes earlier due to illness.

The contract, which is due to end on September 30, will now be paused while it is referred back to Cabinet.

Coun Dore said: "I am perplexed and astonished that the Lib Dems wish to call this in at a time when we are investing an extra £2m in providing services for young people.

"We look at every contract that's due to expire and there is no guarantee Sheffield Futures would have won it.

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"We have an urgent situation where the contract comes to an end and if you delay it you are putting it at risk. We need to get on with this, it wouldn't be responsible to delay this any further."

After the meeting, Lib Dem councillor Colin Ross said: "We are not intrinsically opposed to bringing this contract back in-house but we need to think about it because it will radically affect young people.

"We don't think we had enough information so we said pause this, not stop it, while you tell us exactly what you intend to do."