Sheffield civil servant awarded OBE hits out at Government office axe

A Sheffield civil servant who has been awarded an OBE for her public service has criticised the Government's decision to shut down the city business office she worked for.

Tuesday, 14th June 2016, 9:30 am
Updated Tuesday, 14th June 2016, 9:33 am
Alyson Fender has been awarded an OBE

Alyson Fender, from Beighton, received the honour from the Queen for her work in the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills’ Sheffield office in the field of higher education policy.

Alyson, who retired last year, said she was thrilled to be given an MBE but was ‘hugely disappointed’ about the closure of the Sheffield office, which is to take place by 2018.

She was given the honour in recognition of her work as head of the higher education ministerial briefing team for the department.

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Alyson said: “I am thrilled, honoured and a bit shocked to have received this award. It’s amazing to be recognised.

“I was privileged to be a civil servant for almost 35 years.

“I am though, hugely disappointed that BIS had decided to close the Sheffield office which will mean many people here in Sheffield won’t have the opportunity for a great career.”

She was not the only person from the Sheffield office to be recognised in the latest honours list – with Bobbie McClelland, deputy director of reforming further education provision, also handed an OBE for her work.

More controversially, the top civil servant who has been criticised for his handling of the decision to close the Sheffield office, was given a knighthood.

Martin Donnelly, permanent secretary of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, was given the accolade in recognition of his ‘public service, particularly to business’.

In April, he was accused of ‘misleading’ MPs, who said his refusal to provide documents explaining the plan to shut the business department’s office in Sheffield ‘simply isn’t good enough’.

It followed a leaked internal report, seen by The Star, showing that moving all 247 jobs would cost money.