Public criticise Sheffield Council plan to close assemblies

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THE MAJORITY of Sheffield residents who responded to a council survey about plans to axe the city’s seven community assemblies were against the idea.

Sheffield Council is proposing to shut down the assemblies, which cover seven areas of the city and are responsible for local highways and environmental improvements, plus handing out grants, to save £2.4 million a year.

Instead, around half a million pounds will be spent helping councillors with their ward work.

But a public questionnaire issued about the plans found 70 out of 151 respondents said the change would have a negative impact.

Only 40 supported the idea and 41 had no opinion.

And 101 out of 158 residents were against cutting the discretionary grants provided by assemblies.

Residents called for funding under the replacement system to be spread evenly – with 97 people against targeting funding at wards with the most deprivation.

Respondents were divided about cutting administration officers, with 62 in favour and 59 against, while 13 were unsure.

Coun Mazher Iqbal, Sheffield Council cabinet member for communities, said: “The council is facing massive cuts of £50m in 2013/14.

“We are trying to make the savings through ending the community assembly structures which will save around £2 million. If we did not do this we would have to make bigger cuts to other services.

“We want to continue to engage with our communities and will be consulting on proposals to do this without the community assembly model and keep some of the support for voluntary sector groups within the reduced budgets.

“We will take on board feedback when we undertake further consultation in the coming months on our proposals for greater ward working.”