MP hits out at alleged ‘misinformation’ on Sheffield Liberal Democrats’ election leaflets

MP Clive Betts has hit out at local Liberal Democrats for publishing what he called “misinformation” in its campaign material, which the party denies.

Thursday, 22nd April 2021, 11:13 am

The MP for Sheffield South East recently spoke about the issue in Parliament, asking a minister to confirm that money the government provided for leisure in Sheffield was not being spent anywhere else.

It follows claims on the Liberal Democrats’ campaign literature that leisure money provided from Sheffield Council to Sheffield City Trust, which runs venues like Ponds Forge and the English Institute of Sport, was being spent in Scarborough.

Mr Betts said: “Back in November Sheffield City Council made a strong case for why they should not be excluded from funding to help Sheffield leisure facilities. Based off that they were awarded a significant sum of money for Sheffield facilities. It is therefore really disappointing to see others perpetuating misinformation and falsehoods about that success to try and play politics in the run up to the May elections. Let us have a debate and campaign based on the facts as they are, not how some would want them to be.”

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Clive Betts MP.

MP Luke Hall, Parliamentary under-secretary for housing, communities and local government, said: “I know how important this matter is to him and his community in Sheffield.

“We provided councils with a range of support for Covid pressures on local leisure services including grants, income compensation, and the specific national leisure recovery fund. In all cases, Sheffield will of course comply with the funding conditions.

“My expectation would be that all of that funding will be used locally, to support local services in Sheffield and he is absolutely right not to transfer it to other areas.”

Mr Betts also shared a letter from David Grey, chairman of Sheffield City Trust, who said: “All funding received from SCC, including additional funding during the pandemic, has been granted with the specific condition that it is for Sheffield venues and not to be utilised outside of Sheffield.

Ponds Forge.

“I can also confirm that the contract to operate venues in Scarborough and Whitby was ended early, this January, at the instigation of SCT and at no cost of termination.”

But councillor Shaffaq Mohammed, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said he will not stop campaigning on the issue.

He said: “Labour have been caught red-handed and are now trying to spin their way out of it.

“As a credible, alternative opposition to Labour in Sheffield, we are not going to let them spin their way out.

“I’m going to continue to campaign on this issue and I will get to bottom of exactly how it got there.”

Coun Mohammed shared a recording of an economic and environmental scrutiny committee meeting last year that showed Coun Martin Smith asking Eugene Walker, executive director of resources, to confirm that some of the money used to subsidise Sheffield City Trust is going to cover losses in another local authority.

Mr Walker replied: “At the moment, yes and that is the position we’re trying to extricate ourselves from as fast as possible.”