The year ahead '“ the big Sheffield issues affecting our lives in 2019

Sheffield Town HallSheffield Town Hall
Sheffield Town Hall
As part of a series by the Local Democracy Reporters, we look back at some of the major decisions politicians have made and predict what's on the agendas for 2019.

The ongoing confusion surrounding Brexit means there will be an uncertain start to 2019 but there are some issues we can predict with the Local Democracy crystal ball.

The long awaited Local Plan is bound to create a huge amount of interest and possibly some controversy.

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This is a blueprint for how the city will be developed over the next 15 years. Crucially, there may be changes to Green Belt as the council balances preserving the city's countryside with the need for tens of thousands of new homes.

The new Community Investment Levy will also come into force. This is a charge on all new developments including housing, shops, commercial buildings and hotels.

The money is used to provide infrastructure '“ such as play equipment or highway improvements '“ to support new developments and benefit residents.

There's been objections from opposition councillors to Labour spending the money in disadvantaged communities. So a development in Oughtibridge, for example, could fund new playing fields on the Manor.

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April will be stressful as politicians and officers try to balance the budget as the council enters its ninth year of cuts.

There will be some tough choices ahead as politicians try to run services with an ever decreasing pot of money.

Earlier this year, Council Leader Julie Dore said the council's budget had been 'devastated' by constant cuts leaving a £430m hole and reduction in services.

Adult social care continues to be a major cost and the pressures will only intensify over winter.

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While the NHS and bed-blocking often make the headlines, the council says there needs to be more investment in social care to prevent people from being admitted in the first place.

Rather than investing in beds on wards, the council wants the Government to give extra funding to GPs and district nurses to help prevent people from going into hospital and to support them once they are discharged.

The council is continually assessing how to save money. Earlier this year, it pulled out of a deal with one of its largest contractors Capita, which was providing all the IT services.

The council is now bringing some of the work in house and offering the rest to local, smaller firms '“ it will save £3 million per year over the next six years.

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It's not all doom and gloom and it's important to remember Sheffield has a lot to celebrate including the World Snooker Championship, Tramlines, DocFest, Off the Shelf, the theatres and two Championship football teams. The city of steel is made of strong stuff to weather any storms ahead.