Sheffield Council cuts controversy

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SHEFFIELD Council leader Julie Dore and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg have clashed over continued spending cuts.

Coun Dore is among leaders of Britain’s biggest councils who have written a letter claiming that prolonged austerity measures risk ‘a break-up of civil society’.

The leaders said: “The dire economic consequences of the Government’s austerity programme are now being suffered by millions of families.

“As leaders of some of the largest cities, we recently wrote to Eric Pickles to warn him that the cuts in local government have gone too far.

“Rising crime, increasing community tension, and more problems on our streets will contribute to the break-up of civil society if we do not turn back.

“What we have today is a brand of Conservatism that has no social conscience, taking us back to a Dickensian view of the world. The unfairness of the cuts is in danger of creating a divided nation.”

But Mr Clegg defended coalition policies and hit out at ‘wasteful’ council spending.

He wrote back to Coun Dore saying: “Everyone is aware of the tough decisions required, both at a national and local level, to get our country back on track to build a stronger economy and a fairer society.

“The people of Sheffield deserve to know, as you know, some of the wasteful spending you have agreed to – such as paying dozens of employees to carry out trade union duties instead of doing their jobs, and allocating more than £2.2m for Town Hall meeting room refurbishments.

“They also deserve to know that in the last financial year the council showed a budget surplus of £6.2m and the latest statement of accounts shows £167m of ‘usable reserves’.”

He added that just £225,000 of £5.3m provided to the council by the Government’s New Homes Bonus in the last two years had been spent.