Row over cash for suburbs

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SHEFFIELD Council has been accused by the opposition of making ‘outrageous’ changes to funding for community assemblies - with some facing a cut of almost a third while one in a Labour area is having its budget increased.

The North East Community Assembly, which covers Brightside, Firth Park, Shiregreen and Wincobank, is to receive £531,648 for 2012/12, up from £468,292 - a 13.5 per cent increase.

East Community Assembly, which also represents Labour-supporting areas including Manor and Darnall, is having its budget cut by 1.2 per cent.

The South West assembly, which covers areas including Dore and Totley, is losing 29.9 per cent of its budget.

Its funds will drop from £156,284 in the current financial year to £109,519.

The Northern assembly is losing 26.5 per cent of its funding, Central and South East are taking cuts of 21.4 per cent, and South is being hit by a 14.3 per cent reduction.

Coun Trevor Bagshaw, Lib Dem chairman of the Northern Community Assembly, said: “I’m shocked and hugely disappointed by the scale of this decision. There has been no consultation with local people or the assembly.

“It’s likely that projects to help young people, improve road safety and keep our communities clean and tidy will be scaled back or cancelled altogether.”

Funding to community assemblies for highway projects, climate change projects and small grants to community groups is being cancelled by the council entirely.

Coun David Baker, Lib Dem shadow cabinet member for communities, said: “This is an outrageous move which divides our city at a time when we need to stand together.

“Labour are going back to their ‘favoured areas’ policy, prioritising money for Labour-supporting areas.

“Reductions should be handled in a fair way across Sheffield. Liberal Democrats want to see fairness for all, rather than favouritism for the few.”

Sheffield Council deputy leader Coun Bryan Lodge said the council has made a cut of 20 per cent to its funding for Community Assemblies, reduced from £2m to £1.6m.

But he said the formula for how cash is allocated varies due to population per ward.

He said all assemblies have had a cut in the council’s funding but that the total figures each area will receive also include Government funding for areas of high deprivation which increases money available for wards in the north east and some parts of the east assembly area.

“We are handing out council funding in a fair way to community assemblies which is resulting in a cut to all areas,” he said.