More than 150 people sign petition to save access officers in Sheffield

More than 150 people have signed a petition to save the jobs of two access officers at Sheffield Council.

Thursday, 7th November 2019, 4:17 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th November 2019, 5:47 pm
Sheffield Town Hall

The petition was launched by Disability Sheffield, who are campaigning to save the jobs after the council said it was proposing cutting specialist jobs amid a planning department restructure.

Among them are two part-time access officers who work with the council and developers to ensure all new buildings are safe and accessible for everyone.

Andrew Crooks, of Disability Sheffield, said: “I am a wheelchair user and I want city leaders to realise the access officers’ positions are vital to disabled people’s independence. I desperately want my city to show that it’s not prepared to turn its back on the advances made over the decades by disabled people, society, architects and planners to start taking things for granted.

James Martin, Andrew Crookes and councillor Douglas Johnson

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“As well as making access assured, the officers can also save the local authority and businesses money by ensuring services and buildings include the whole community and strengthening the local economy because of this.”

James Martin, of Disability Sheffield, said: “One of the main things you lose with any disability or impairment is time. So if you don’t have people who are able to skilfully stand up for the kind of things disabled people need then it just becomes another penalty on life to slow you down and stop you participating as fully as you should be in work and leisure and so on. It’s a massive issue for justice.”

As well as access officers, it is believed around 40 specialist jobs are at risk in the planning department.

Councillor Bob Johnson, cabinet member for transport and development, said they were in an ongoing dispute with the planning department and unions.

He said: “Sheffield City Council has faced austerity for many years as a result of central government consistently reducing our funding, this has resulted in cuts to many council services.

“We are consulting with officers in the planning team on proposals to make the required savings put upon us. Our priority and main concern is our members of staff that are affected at this time, and all their concerns will be discussed prior to any decisions being made.”