Tag Archives: Simon Clement Jones

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.”

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.

Lib Dems reduce number of council “fat cats”

Sheffield’s Liberal Democrat council have announced figures which suggest they have been more successful than expected in reducing the number of highly paid council employees.

In January 2009, the council pledged to reduce the number of non-school employees earning more than £50,000 by 10%. Today’s figures suggest that once non-filled positions are factored in, they have achieved a figure closer to 17%.

The council received criticism last week, after it was revealed that nearly all of the savings made from youth service cuts would be swallowed up by the severance packages of just three senior council officials.

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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.