Tag Archives: Budget

Public kept in the dark as council approves emergency cash injection for city Museums

Millenium Gallery - Owned by Sheffield City Council, operated by cash strapped Museums Sheffield

Emergency cashflow support for Sheffield’s museums has been approved by Sheffield’s Liberal Democrat cabinet, but the council has not revealed how much the deal will cost.

Sheffield Museums, the charitable trust which runs Sheffield’s five council owned museums, recieved a 5% budget cut in March this year. They approached the council for a cash injection to stave off a “serious cashflow problem.”

Council leader Paul Scriven said, “We believe it is important to support the museums through this period, but we are confident that over the next two months we will be able to work together and ensure the finances of Museums Sheffield are back on track.

”We will also be working with them to develop long-term proposals to ensure that the organisation can avoid similar cash flow problems in the future.”

The running of Sheffield’s museums and galleries was “devolved” to private sector organisations in the 1990s, partially as a response to the debts incurred by the city’s hosting of 1991’s World Student Games.

Members of the public were excluded from the meeting where the deal was agreed, and the council have refused divulge the size and terms of the bailout.

Complaints about the lack of transparency in the deal were aired in an opinion piece in The Star: “On the face of it Museums Sheffield, set up as a limited company 12 years ago to run Sheffield’s four museums, is a stand alone business which has cut the umbilical chord with the city council.

But that relationship has never been straightforward and the museums knew exactly where to turn when they ran into financial trouble.

However, as the council is clearly still pulling the strings, we believe it is unacceptable therefore that there should have been a decision to keep the public in the dark as to exactly how much of their money had been handed over to the cash-strapped organisation.”

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Council votes in favour of budget cuts

Plans for £6.5m of cuts to Sheffield’s public services have been narrowly approved today by a heated meeting of Sheffield City Council.

As previously reported, more than half of the cuts will be to Children and Young People’s services, with projects combat substance abuse and teen pregnancy among those that will lose funding.

“Taxing less and spending more,” said Council Leader Paul Scriven, “is fun in the short run, but it’s a recipe for disaster. And that’s what the last government’s recipe was.”

He also warned that if the Labour group were successful in blocking the budget as-is, the reductions would have to be made up in “mainstream” public services. “Schools, social workers. Real services cut because you haven’t had the backbone to face the people of this city and face the consequences of the mess that your government left this city and country in.”

Cllr Scriven said that while they have been able to protect permanent jobs from redundancies, contract and temporary workers may find their contracts shortened or not renewed.

Labour Councillor Julie Dore said of the Lib Dems role in the coalition government, “You’re just lapdogs, figleaves. But boy don’t they just roll you out when they want you to announce some bad news. Whatever you decide, this is about ideology. Do not be fooled. The role of public services, how they are delivered and more importantly who delivers them is what this is all about.”

Far from the sombre faces put on by George Osborne and the cabinet on budget day, the Lib Dem cabinet appeared in more jovial spirits this afternoon. After pointing out that the country was paying out £80,000 a minute in interest, three councillors (Colin Ross, Shaffaq Mohammed and Simon Clement-Jones) openly joked about their three minute “quarter million pound” speeches. Their humour was met with uproarious laughter from the Lib Dem side of the chamber and stony faces opposite.

Cllr Mohammed said Labour councillors had been providing plenty of rhetoric, but had not come up with any of their own ideas.

“You can criticise the reductions as much as you want,” he said, “but unless you come forward with alternatives you’ve got no leg to stand on. It’s alright standing on the steps of the town hall and making speeches, but those people that actually know what’s happening in the city don’t want retoric, they want an alternative. Until you provide an alternative, you have no right to govern or lead the city.”

Cllr Andrew Sangar, cabinet member for climate change and waste management, paid tribute to the Green Party councillors for coming up with alternatives to the budget cuts, but he said “Clearly we don’t agree with it. They’re a high tax party, we’re not. We’re a fair tax party.”

Cllr Clement-Jones illustrated the city’s financial situation in terms of the debt left to Sheffield by the 1991 World Student Games. “We’re currently paying £25m every year, and will be unitl 2024. This recession will cost us two World Student Games a year for the next four years.”

Labour Cllr Jack Scott, who stood against Nick Clegg in this year’s general election, and who is a likely candidate for the vacant position of Sheffield Labour group leader, said, “Let nobody be in any doubt, this budget is a budget from hell. This fiscal sadism. It’s too much too soon and it’s too dangerous.”

He also quoted pre-election campaign literature distributed by Paul Scriven, which said “Conservative plans will mean cuts to services now and a longer recession.”

“The public debt now is £15bn less than when you wrote these leaflets,” he said, “Nothing that you’ve said today about the debt was not known then, when you said these things. Nobody in Sheffield will ever believe a word you say ever again.

“These vicious and duplicitous right wing Liberals can fool themselves, but they can’t fool Sheffield. They are out of ideas, out of excuses and out on their ear at the next election.”

Lib Dem cabinet signs off on £6.5m of Sheffield public service cuts

Leader of the Council, Paul Scriven

Paul Scriven, Leader of the Council

£6.5m of cuts to local services were approved today by Sheffield City Council’s Liberal Democrat cabinet.

Paul Scriven, leader of the council, said “We haven’t taken this exercise with a sense of glee. It’s something we have been left to do because of the mess this country has been left in.

“I will be honest with the people of Sheffield. This will not be easy and there will be service reductions.”

Mr Scriven also accused Labour party members of “abdicating their responsibility” with regard to the debt they had left for the country.

Over half of the proposed cuts will come from Education and Children and Young People’s Services. The Connexions service, which offers information and advice to 13-19 year olds will see their budget reduced by £1.2m, about a fifth of their previous total.

Councillor Colin Ross, member for Children and Young People’s Services, said “We have been as careful as we possibly can to protect the future of the young people of our city.”

David Blunkett, former Education Secretary and Labour MP for Hillsborough and Brightside, last week described the proposed cuts as “appalling”.

Councillor Simon Clement Jones, cabinet member for finance, said “I don’t think this is a good day for Sheffield. A Labour government spent more money than it had and now it’s time to pay the bill.

“One positive is that the Liberal Democrats are in charge of the city and we are well used to cleaning up after Labour’s mess.”

The cabinet unanimously approved the interim budget report in a meeting which lasted a little over 20 minutes. There were no questions from the public.

A more robust discussion of the cuts is expected when the report is voted on by the full council, where the Liberal Democrats do not have a majority, on Wednesday. Full details of the cuts proposed to be made over the next year can be found here.