Tag Archives: Paul Scriven

Council votes to oppose Sheffield’s financial settlement

Sheffield City Council last night voted to oppose the city’s local government financial settlement, which will require deep cuts in council spending.

The cut to the grant, which council leader Paul Scriven pledged to oppose should it be over 15%, came in at roughly 8%, although this is still 4% higher than the national average.

Cllr Brian Lodge, deputy leader of the city’s Labour group, said that when council tax receipts and the additional grant for social care are taken into account, the effective cut for 2011/12 is more like 14.57%.

Speaking at yesterday’s meeting of the full council, he said: “This is a devastating settlement for Sheffield. This is a 15% cut like for like.”

Labour councillor Jack Scott further accused the Liberal Democrats of going along with the coalition settlement despite it being unfair for the city, and hitting the poorest hardest.

He said: “Every week we see how this government brings new meaning to the phrase ‘women and children first'”.

In response, an animated Simon Clement-Jones, Lib Dem cabinet member for finance, said: “Honestly, I’ve heard some shrill whining in my time, but this?” before repeatedly asking what the Labour group would do in their position.

Paul Scriven, leader of the council pointed out that Labour leader Ed Miliband had said before the election that many of the same cuts would have been made. He said Labour had said one thing before the election, and another after, which drew jeers from across the chamber.

The vote was lost by the Liberal Democrats as Green councillors sided with Labour against the motion. Green councillor Rob Murphy said: “30 years of broken promises? The Lib Dems broke that many in 30 days.”

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”.

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.”

Council to launch inquiry into £6m expenses bill; 8,500 council staff to have contracts renegotiated

Council Leader Paul Scriven has promised an inquiry after it was revealed that the Council’s employee expenses bill totalled £6m for last year.

The Liberal Democrats say a crackdown on “perks” such as non-essential staff training, car allowances and hospitality has saved half a million pounds compared to when Labour were in control of the council.

Earlier this week unions were notified that up to 8,500 council employees would face changes to their employment conditions, including pay freezes and removal of sick pay.

Councillor Simon Clement-Jones, Liberal Democrat Cabinet member for Finance, said: “Whilst some essential training and transport costs are required by vital front line staff such as care workers for example, the Council is spending too much on other unnecessary employee perks.

“If we are to deal with the reductions in our budget whilst trying to protect vital front line services, then Labour councillors in Sheffield must not block our plans. This might not be unpopular with the Unions, but prioritising spend on front line services instead of employee car allowances and subsistence payments is the right thing to do. Labour should put local taxpayers before their Trade Union paymasters.”

It seems, however, that the unions are less concerned with the cuts to perks, as they are with the size of the hospitality bill at a time when 8,500 council employees are likely to have their contracts re-evaluated.

Speaking to the Star, Mark Keeling, Unite convenor at Sheffield Council, said: “Our members are facing a bleak future. If the gravy train is still running for those at the top, it’s time it hit the buffers.

“It’s not the job of officers to wine and dine using the public purse.
“The council’s job is to provide services and employment.”

The GMB union revealed this week that they had received notice that 8,500 workers at Sheffield City Council would have their contracts renegotiated. The council say that this does not necessarily mean 8,500 will lose their jobs. A spokesperson for the council said yesterday “There haven’t been any figures put on that.

“The Council has not issued staff with redundancy notices and it is misleading to suggest that we have. What we have communicated to the Trade Unions is, that as part of our ongoing negotiations with them, we are following national guidance.

“There is a process that, by law, we have to follow and certain formalities have to be complied with and that includes issuing what is known as a HR1 notice to the Government and shared with the Trade Unions. We are now at that stage.

“This statutory notice is part of the formal and technical process when two parties haven’t yet reached a collective agreement. We are still continuing to meet with the Trade Unions and are still working towards a collective agreement. ”

The changes which are being negotiated with trade unions include the removal of the first three days of a workers’ sick pay, a pay freeze and the offer of career breaks and voluntary early retirement.

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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Lib Dem councillor defects to Labour

Julie Dore welcomes Ben Curran to Sheffield's Labour Group

Walkley councillor Ben Curran has defected from the city’s Lib Dem group to the Labour group, branding his former party’s reasons for cancelling the Forgemasters loan “a pack of lies”.

This leaves the Liberal Democrats with only 41 councillors, meaning a combination of Labour’s 39 and Greens’ 2 councillors could vote down Lib Dem motions and amendments.

Cllr Curran, who had been an advisor to Lib Dem deputy leader Cllr David Baker, said it had not been an easy decision, but that he felt he had “no alternative but to leave the Liberal Democrats and join Labour.”

He said: “I was bitterly disappointed with where the party was going nationally with Nick Clegg and I was also left disillusioned with the lack of resistance shown by the Lib Dems locally with all the savage cuts that have hit this city.

“The disgraceful decision to cancel the Forgemasters loan is a case in point. As Sheffield Lib Dem Councillors, we were asked to defend what turned out to be a completely unjustifiable decision and it soon transpired that all the reasons in favour of cancelling the loan were just a pack of lies.

“My personal values haven’t changed but the political landscape has. It is clear to me that Labour offers the only genuine progressive future for both Sheffield and Britain today.”

Paul Scriven, leader of Sheffield council said: “Clearly this has come as a real surprise to us as Ben hasn’t spoken to me or anyone else in the Group to let us know he was thinking of resigning, let alone defecting. He was only elected in May and just a couple of weeks ago he gave a speech in the Council chamber deriding Labour’s record.

“Obviously this is a personal decision for Ben, but it’s clear that the move has been orchestrated given that it is on the eve of our national conference in Liverpool. I find it hard to understand how he could have joined a party that has pledged to take money away from the area he represents, took us into an illegal war in Iraq and has bankrupted the entire country.”

Sheffield Labour Group’s new leader Julie Dore welcomed the defection. She said: “The doors are wide open for any other Lib Dems who feel uneasy with the Tory-led Coalition and who are sick to death of these spiteful cuts, which are being made too far, too fast and hitting the most vulnerable hardest.”

Paul Blomfield, Labour MP for Sheffield Central, which includes the Walkley Ward, said: “I know what a difficult decision this has been for Ben. Like many Lib Dem supporters in Sheffield he was deeply distressed by the way that the party has changed under Nick Clegg’s leadership, especially since joining the Tories in Government. I welcome him to Labour and I’m looking forward to working with him in Walkley ward in my constituency.”