Report points to challenges

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IN the second of our series of reports about the State of Sheffield, published last week, we have thrown a focus on the job opportunities the city has and the action needed to tackle air pollution.

As the leader of the opposition, Coun Shaffaq Mohammed, says, The State of Sheffield report tells how a number of things are looking positive for the city.

It is reported to be a vibrant, resilient city, with upwards of 58,000 jobs that could be created in the next three years.

The private sector is responding well to the challenge to replace the jobs being shed by public authorities.

However, the challenges facing those in charge of running our city run deep.

Almost one quarter of households and 22,000 children are reported to be living in poverty.

Poverty has many indices, and one of those is the quality of air which affects health particularly.

The city is proposing to bring down pollution through its low carbon agenda - encouraging more public transport, investment in the trams and the creation of more energy efficient buildings.

To be successful, it needs the public to embrace that agenda, too. But unfortunately, it is still mainly a silent agenda.

If the council and the Sheffield Executive Board are serious about co-ordinating action to tackle such an important issue, then we need to see much more proactive encouragement, with incentives and disincentives to achieve success.

Sitting pretty as services suffer

COUNCILS across the city region must be looking with envy at the millions of pounds that have been salted away by schools for “that rainy day”.

In Sheffield, the figure totals £18 million that the council is powerless to do anything about to force the schools to part with.

Meanwhile, it is having to butcher some community services that it provides for the use of young people, including libraries.

In days gone by, when the authority had direct control over the schools, it had more power to influence their budgets.

But with the effective deregulation of the school system, that influence has largely disappeared.

It is understandable that schools will want to hang on to their savings, to help ease pressure on building maintenance, spending and recruiting of staff.

But maybe they should consider helping out the wider community by releasing their grip on the purse strings to ease the burden outside of the school gates.