Deputy PM praises city council for good work
NICK Clegg urged Liberal Democrat members to “take the fight” to their rivals at the launch of his party’s local election campaign in Sheffield - and praised the “successes” of the city council under Lib Dem rule.
The Hallam MP and party leader got the Lib Dem campaign under way with a speech at The Hilton hotel on Victoria Quays, Sheffield.
Mr Clegg said Sheffield Council has turned around local schools and kept public sector job losses to a minimum despite budget cuts.
The Deputy Prime Minister also accused Brightside and Hillsborough MP David Blunkett of shamelessly scaremongering over the scale of coalition cuts.
“The Liberal Democrats have a long, proud and successful history in local government, running some of the nation’s largest cities and most effective councils,” Mr Clegg said.
“We’ve benefited from the experience of years running successful local councils. As we approach the local elections we must shout these successes from the rooftops.”
He said the party has had to make hard choices around the country.
“It wasn’t just the Lib Dems in Westminster who turned up on the first day in office to find a note saying, ‘There’s no money left’.
“In Sheffield under Paul Scriven, the Lib Dems inherited an annual bill of up to £30 million for the World Student Games - an event that took place 20 years ago and won’t be paid off until 2024.”
Mr Clegg added: “In Sheffield they have turned around local schools and insulated 13,000 local homes for free, helping to make Sheffield the first city in the country to generate enough energy to become self-sufficient in 13 years.”
He also said Lib Dem councils are not closing a single Sure Start children’s centre or library.
“We know where our priorities lie. The same can’t be said of the Labour party - they put politics first. They have turned from the party of government to the party of ‘no’. They act like the last 13 years simply didn’t happen.
“Here in Sheffield we’ve heard David Blunkett shamelessly scaremongering, describing a post-Soviet meltdown with people fending for themselves. It’s dangerous and insulting.”
Mr Clegg commended Sheffield Council for keeping redundancies to 270, while branding’s Manchester’s Labour-run authority a “slash and burn” council.
Nationally, Lib Dems should not be afraid of taking on the Tories for council seats, he said - despite the two parties working together in coalition.
“Working together in the national interest does not mean we agree on everything, and does not mean we should not be taking the fight to the Conservatives in the local elections.”