Posts Tagged ‘Sheffield City Council’

What on earth is going on with Sheffield’s Labour council?

21/11/2016, 10:27:00 PM

by Lucy Ashton

Sheffield’s ruling Labour councillors took complete leave of their senses last week in a scandal which made national news headlines.

For 18 months, residents in leafy Ecclesall have been fighting council plans to chop down eight mature trees which have stood there for generations and border one of the most well-loved parks in the city.

The trees are part of a beautiful street scene and there’s no doubting the environmental benefits which they bring to a city which is congested and has suffered severe flooding in the past.

But the crux of this issue is that Sheffield Council entered into a contract with private provider Amey to resurface the city’s streets and roads. Amey promptly decided to fell swathes of mature, healthy trees across the city to cut maintenance costs.

Despite an independent tree panel – set up by the council – ruling five of these eight trees should remain, councillors decided they’d had enough of listening to voters.

So they cut down the trees in the middle of the night. Twenty-two police officers were dispatched to protect Amey workmen as they sliced in the darkness. Unbelievably, police knocked residents up at 4.45am and told them to move their cars.

Two women in their 70s who tried to stand and protect the trees were arrested and held in custody until teatime. Within hours, the eight glorious trees were chippings.

Unsurprisingly, residents, the Lib Dems and the media were incredulous and outraged. Former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, whose Sheffield Hallam constituency covers the area, was quick to condemn the move as “inexcusable” and “underhand”.

His criticism was echoed by Lib Dem Peer and local Lib Dem Councillor Lord Paul Scriven, who had previously raised the issue in Parliament.

Meanwhile, Labour supporters were left stunned and disgusted. Several took to twitter to say they would not vote Labour again, despite being party members.

The whole debacle is simply beyond belief. At what point did someone think this was a reasonable idea? And when they suggested this madness, why did no one else intervene? How could elected councillors and officers sit around a table and agree this was justified? What precedent does this set?

When was cutting down trees, sending police to wake people in the night and arresting elderly people socialism? The council has only just recovered from searing criticism for closing libraries across the city. How can chopping down trees, which neighbour a public park and offer huge environmental benefits, be for the greater good of the community?

No one has been more vocal about the police’s behaviour at Orgreave than Labour yet here they are, using the same heavy-handed tactics.

I agree with the Labour Party members now questioning their loyalty. These councillors will bully campaigners, send the police in the night and see pensioners arrested rather than question financial details with their own private contractors.

Lucy Ashton is a journalist and former regional newspaper Political Editor

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Are Nick Clegg’s pants indeed on fire?

03/04/2014, 06:00:22 PM

In their television ding-dong last night, Nigel Farage accused Nick Clegg of “wilfully lying” about Europe when the Lib Dem Leader claimed just seven per cent of UK laws are in fact made in Brussels.

But he wasn’t the only one accusing Clegg of being economical with the facts yesterday.

He is also in hot water after berating his local council in Sheffield for not being willing to take in its share of Syrian refugees.

Clegg accused council chiefs of “tarnishing” the city’s reputation as a “city of sanctuary” after refusing to be part of the Home Office’s Vulnerable Persons Relocation (VPR) programme.

In a piece of chest-puffing hyperbole, he claimed the Labour Leader of Sheffield City Council, Julie Dore, had “decided to shut the door on some of the most vulnerable people in the world”.

Dore hit back, saying it was “outrageous” of Clegg to claim the council had refused to take in Syrian refugees and accused him of “not telling the truth”.

She in fact wrote to ministers last month “making it clear” the council would do so, providing the government would guarantee funding for longer than 12 months.

The refugees are expected to need to stay for up to five years, with many having complex health and social care needs.

Hull and Manchester are also said to have asked the government for further funding guarantees before taking any refugees.

Unfortunately, Clegg has form. Last year exasperated council chiefs had to formally write to him to ask him to stop misrepresenting the council’s budget, claiming the council was spending £2 million renovating council meeting rooms.

In fact, the council was spending £600,000 on essential maintenance to the Grade II listed Town Hall and making improvements to increase the number of income-generating civil ceremonies.

In accusing Farage of being an isolationist last night, Clegg mocked his Billy-No-Mates approach.

Still, better than being Billy Liar?

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We need to be bolder in pushing back against UKIP

19/06/2013, 04:05:48 PM

by Helen Mirfin-Boukouris

As a Labour candidate currently campaigning in the OMOV process, the matter of UKIP and how we confront their performance in the polls and recent by-elections frequently comes up.  I expect all Labour candidates now wonder what magic bullet there might be to confront their current upsurge beyond simply hoping that they will burn themselves out as they grow, diverge and crumble under the weight of their own vanity and incoherence.

But that is not good enough is it?  How can I, who have been in a Labour family all my life not stand up especially now and challenge offensive politics?

On the door step campaigning, I know of people who will tell you they are voting UKIP.  They are cross and are protesting in the familiar tradition of giving established parties a poke in the eye for letting them down be it because of losing a job, losing weekly wheelie bin services, waiting longer in hospital. Watching people who look different to them taking advantage of the same services and feeling somehow that they are being taken for a ride. Nothing the parties say helps them see a better future while paying more again and again.

UKIP come along and say “enough! we shall speak for you.” And it does not really matter what the detail is that they espouse because it is working.  It is frustrating to admit too.  However, I did not spend the last twenty years in the Labour Party to let people get away with this and do nothing.

The UKIP message works because it is a personal message.  It is simple, there is blame and it is easy to remember. If you are outraged by politicians, and those seen as outsiders, getting the better of people who are losing their livelihoods and their futures, it works.

So, we need to make politics personal and show that Labour values matter, using language and facts that resonate with peoples’ daily lives.


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Saturday News Review

11/06/2011, 06:56:57 AM

More Balls papers are leaked

A confidential document presented to the Cabinet in January 2006 asks: “We’ve spent all this money, but what have we got for it?” It warns that the efficiency of the public sector needed to improve rapidly and insisted that “spending growth will slow”. The document drafted by civil servants also says that “ineffective spending” must be “closed down”. However, Gordon Brown discarded the advice and embarked on a £90 billion increase in spending when he became prime minister. The expenditure meant that the economy was left facing a record deficit as the effects of the recession were felt. The document is among 19 papers disclosed today by The Daily Telegraph that were obtained from the personal files of Mr Balls, the shadow Chancellor. They follow the divulgence yesterday of dozens of documents detailing Mr Balls’s central role in a plot to topple Tony Blair. The Coalition seized on the disclosures as evidence that Mr Brown’s “reckless” decisions over public spending left the country in a vulnerable position when the economic downturn hit Britain. A Conservative source said: “This document shows the reckless approach of Brown and Balls which left Britain dangerously exposed to the economic crisis.” – Daily Telegraph

The rivalry between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown is back like a sleeping monster that awakes every few months to wreak destructive havoc on the party they led. The latest re-awakening takes the form of leaked memos that once belonged to Ed Balls and are now published in The Daily Telegraph. The monstrous activity is to do with the present and not the past. This is an exercise aimed at damaging Balls now, rather than triggering a further historic seminar on Blair and Brown, the most familiar theme in British politics. And yet the documents are not incriminating. Indeed, the context in which they were written shows why it would be more of a shock if such memos had not been composed as Labour’s long internal battle reached a dénouement. – Steve Richards, the Independent

Another leak, why now?

David Miliband planned to use his first speech as Labour leader to warn that the party’s greatest danger lay in underestimating the challenge of the deficit – and that it was imperative to regain the public’s trust on the economy. The Guardian has obtained a final draft of the speech he planned to deliver if he had won the Labour leadership election last September, instead of losing to his brother Ed. The crestfallen former foreign secretary is said to have recited the speech to his wife in the back of his car on the drive home from party conference. Its disclosure now caps a difficult week for Ed Miliband who has been battling criticism of his leadership and the embarassing leak of emails belonging to the shadow chancellor, Ed Balls. The leadership speech that wasn’t shows David Miliband intended to announce that Alistair Darling, the former chancellor, had agreed to head an all-party commission to draft a framework of rules on public spending and deficits designed to restore lost trust in Labour fiscal discipline. – the Guardian

Tonight’s Guardian scoop revealing that the speech that David Miliband would have given if he had been elected leader makes this one of the most difficult—and leaky—weeks for Labour since its election defeat. The line in the speech that will cause the most trouble for Ed Miliband is that David Miliband intended to create a commission on the deficit chaired by Alistair Darling and charged with creating a new set of fiscal rules, an admission that Labour got it wrong on the deficit which Ed Miliband has refused to give. This speech emerging just a day after Ed Ball’s private papers about the plot to force Tony Blair to stand down came into the public domain will create suspicions in Labour circles that there is a deliberate effort underway to undermine Ed Miliband. One striking detail from the piece is that David Miliband delivered the speech to his wife in the car as they drove away from the conference. – the Spectator

Cameron’s first policy success

Larry the Downing Street cat has made his first kills since being brought in to deal with rats at Number 10.Revealing the kills, Prime Minister David Cameron said that the tabby tom hasn’t got it quite right yet – a criticism some may be levelling at Mr Cameron’s coalition government – as he’s been catching mice instead of the more muscular rats he was brought in to deal with. Mr Cameron revealed that the historic London townhouse is infested with mice, and that he has even spotted one in the flat above 11 Downing Street that he occupies with wife, Samantha, and their children. ‘I’m a big Larry fan,’ the PM told ITV1’s This Morning. ‘We have got big mouse infestation in Downing Street and Larry has caught some mice. I actually took a picture of one in my flat on my mobile phone, because it was looking at me.’ Larry was recruited from Battersea Dogs and Cats Home in south London in February to kill rats after several sightings of the vermin outside the Prime Minister’s official residence. – Daily Mail

Why we elect Labour Councils

The Labour council in Sheffield is to reverse £2m of spending cuts made by the Liberal Democrats who ran the authority until May’s elections. Labour said its revised budget would restore funding to key areas including apprenticeships, adult social care and more Police Community Support Officers. Labour said the £2m “will be met from a mix of reducing costs and making efficiencies, such as rationalising the council’s transport fleet, and savings in funding streams”. Council leader Julie Dore said: “We’ve decided that the authority had to restore funding to areas that matter to local people and give us the ability to deliver the right kind of services in the right way with the support of local people. I am pleased to say the council has now restored funding to these areas.” – BBC Sheffield & South Yorkshire

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