Tag Archives: Liberal Democrats

Comment: Does Paul Scriven’s hotel video break any rules?

The emergence of Paul Scriven’s musical debut yesterday has certainly been controversial among the people of Sheffield and beyond, but did it actually break, or even bend any rules?

Standards for England, who monitor ethics in local government, say it’s unlikely that the video breaks the Council’s Code of Conduct.

The code (Par 8, sub par 1b) makes it clear that members may not take actions or decisions which might be of benefit to family or friends.

While Mr Scriven admitted to the Yorkshire Post that he made the video as a “favour to a friend” (the general manager of St Paul’s Hotel), it’s unlikely a complaint on this basis would be upheld as the video makes no mention of his position as a councillor. As Mr Scriven says, “I did this as Paul Scriven, not as a councillor.”

There is a question as to whether Cllr Scriven should declare a personal interest should any matters concerning St Paul’s arise in council in future, as despite declaring on twitter that he was not paid for the appearance:

…it could be interpreted as employment under Par8, sub par 1a(iv) of the code linked above.

One rule which the video almost certainly breaks is the Copyright, Designs and Patents act 1988, which forbids modifying the lyrics of a published song without first obtaining permission from the copyright holder. While it is unlikely that Cllr Scriven would be held responsible for this action, unless the producer of the video (apparently the general manager of St Paul’s Hotel) has obtained written permission from Lou Reed or his publishing company, he could be open to criminal prosecution.

The final rule that is most certainly broken by the video, is the unwritten law that you should never, ever cover Perfect Day. It’s about heroin for goodness sake, and look how creepy SuBo’s version turned out.

SheffieldPolitics has also been attempting to clear up some of the apparent inconsistencies in the story given by Cllr Scriven as to how he came to make the video.

When the video first came to light, Cllr Scriven made several postings to his Twitter account, the first being an explanation that:

However, the Yorkshire Post later reported him saying he had

“stepped in at the last minute” to film the two minute, 47 second video after arriving at the hotel on other business and hearing that an actor booked for it had dropped out.

As Mr Scriven helped out at the last minute, it must be assumed that the vocal track, which sounds like his voice, was recorded in a studio at a later date.

The other question is about the intended use of the short film. Mr Scriven, again on Twitter, said it was a training video intended for internal use only.

It’s hard, however to see the benefit an internal training video could have for local tourism:

Even if the above are simply the fallout of Twitter’s 140 character limit, or even lapses in memory, it’s hard to argue that Cllr Scriven’s involvement in the video isn’t a lapse in political judgement.

Despite it clearly being a work of fiction, is it sensible for the Leader of the Council to be filmed buying purple cocktails on a VIP card in a swanky hotel in a week which saw council workers warned they’ll be seeing a pay freeze?

Cllr Scriven accuses his opponents (which we at SheffieldPolitics, it should be noted, do not consider ourselves to be) of suffering sense-of-humer failure, and maybe he’s right. Maybe some politicians do take themselves too seriously.

It’s understandable though, that in such straitened times, many would fail to see the funny side. People want to believe politicians take their jobs seriously, and whether as a result of this, or of the hysterics and braying from both sides of the aisle every other week at meetings of the full council, they are finding it difficult to do so in Sheffield.

We approached Cllr Scriven for clarification and comment, but at the time of publication he had not replied. To be fair, it is Christmas and his Twitter says he’s got a nasty chest infection. SheffieldPolitics wishes him a very happy Christmas, hopes he feels better soon and invites him to get in touch with any clarifications he may wish to make in the New Year.

Sheffield Council and Sheffield Liberal Democrats declined to make any official statement, as it is “not a council matter”.

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Lib Dem council defy coalition in opposition to tuition fee rises

Nick Clegg yesterday faced a backlash in his Sheffield constituency, as the Lib Dem leader of the city council publicly opposed increases in tuition fees.

Cllr Paul Scriven, leader of the council, said “Sheffield is home to thousands of students and families who might be thinking of sending their children to university in the future. I’ve made my position clear; I don’t want to see students saddled with unbearable levels of debt. Therefore we oppose any increase to tuition fees.

“We may be in coalition in Westminster but we’re not in coalition in Sheffield and as Liberal Democrats we will continue to voice our opposition to measures with which we disagree.”

Cllr Scriven also ruled out Labour’s favoured policy of a graduate tax, calling it “unfair”.

A government review, led by former BP chief executive Lord Browne, recommended removing the cap on student fees, allowing universities to set their own rates.

But Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister and MP for Sheffield Hallam, said earlier this week that the coalition were considering keeping an increased cap. “I am uneasy about the idea that you, in theory, have unlimited fees,” he said. “So we are looking at something which would be more restrained.”

Business secretary Vince Cable said last week that he was considering a cap of around £7,000 per year. Currently undergraduate students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland pay a maximum of £3,290 per year.

Cllr Scriven will put forward a motion opposing the proposed rise at next week’s meeting of the full council.

Both Clegg and Cable, who delivered the Browne review to the House of Commons pledged to vote against rises in tuition fees before May’s general election.

Lib Dem defector cleared of data theft allegations

Paul Scriven and Ben Curran, pictured with a Walkley Resident in April.

Paul Scriven and Ben Curran, pictured with a Walkley Resident in April

The investigation into Cllr Ben Curran, who was accused of data theft after he defected from the Liberal Democrats to the Labour group, has been dropped by South Yorkshire Police.

Paul Scriven, Leader of Sheffield council accused Cllr Curran of taking public survey data from the Lib Dems, which had been collected during the general election campaign. He reported Cllr Curran to the police, and wrote to Labour group leader Cllr Julie Dore requesting he be suspended pending the investigation.

South Yorkshire Police today confirmed that the investigation had been dropped.

Acting Detective Chief Inspector Bob Chapman said: “South Yorkshire Police has investigated a complaint made by the Liberal Democrats relating to Ben Curran.

“Following this investigation, no further action is to be taken. This outcome has been agreed with all those involved.”

A spokesperson for Sheffield Liberal Democrats said: “South Yorkshire Police have confirmed to us that Councillor Curran did obtain the files of personal data two days before he defected to the Labour Party, but that he did not pass it on and that it has now been returned.

“As he obtained the data while he was still a Liberal Democrat councillor, they have said he did not commit an offence and we will not take this matter any further.”

The Labour group did not suspend Cllr Curran, who remained silent on the matter until releasing a statement yesterday, in which he said: “The Police have confirmed that there is no case to answer. I hope that, as Councillors, we can all now focus on representing our constituents and doing what is best for Sheffield.”

Police to investigate council defector Curran for “downloading personal data from Nick Clegg’s office”

UPDATE 29/9/10 – 5.30pm

Cllr Curran has released his first official statement since allegations of data theft were made last week.

He said “The Police have confirmed that there is no case to answer. I hope that, as Councillors, we can all now focus on representing our constituents and doing what is best for Sheffield.”

Ben Curran, the Sheffield City Councillor who defected from the Liberal Democrats to Labour on Friday, is under investigation by the police, it has emerged.

Council leader Paul Scriven has asked Labour leader Julie Dore to suspend Curran for allegedly downloading personal data about thousands of voters from Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s office days before his defection.

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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.

Video: “Nick Clegg is not welcome in Sheffield” – City responds to emergency budget

Hundreds gathered outside Sheffield Town Hall this afternoon to protest against the public sector cuts outlined in the coalition government’s first budget.

Doug Patterson of Unite recieved the warmest welcome of the day, canonised for his ongoing battle to reverse the governments decision to withdraw their £80m loan to Sheffield Forgemasters.

Sheffield Labour Party Chair Paul Wood recieved a frostier reception, and was heckled by activists in the crowd for New Labour’s centrism. A message from Labour MP for Sheffield South East Clive Betts was read out to a murmur of boos, although Central MP Paul Blomfield’s message was better recieved.

Constant throughout the speeches was a sense of betrayal. A feeling that Nick Clegg, once the golden boy of Sheffield, has sold the north down the river, to the extent that Patterson declared him persona-non-grata in the Steel City. A further demonstration outside his Eccleshall constituency home has been mooted, but as I understand it it’s pretty hard to catch him in these days.

Lib Dem council leader Paul Scriven, who has been on telly an awful lot this weekend loyally defending the coalition’s actions, did not attend the protest.

In other news, fresh faced education minister Michael Gove will be opening a new building near the Peace Gardens on Thursday afternoon at 1pm. I’d be surprised if he didn’t recieve a warm, Sheffield welcome.