Tag Archives: Tony Damms

Clegg to visit city to launch council enterprise deal

Deputy PM Nick Clegg

Deputy Prime Minister and Hallam MP Nick Clegg is to visit Sheffield tomorrow to help launch a new scheme intended to bring the council and local businesses together.

Mr Clegg will visit the Town Hall to help launch the new Sheffield Local Enterprise Partnership, introduced at last night’s meeting of the full council. The LEP is intended as a replacement for regional development agency Yorkshire Forward which is to be abolished.

He will also meet with local MPs, councillors and business and voluntary group leaders for the Sheffield First Partnership leadership summit at Mercure St. Pauls Hotel.

At last night’s meeting, Cllr Scriven, who has been involved in the founding of the LEP, said he hoped the replacement of Yorkshire Forward with a more private sector inclusive project would remove beaurocracy and stimulate growth.

He said, “If this city is going to move forward over the next ten years that growth is going to have to come from the private sector. That means that his city is going to have to be business friendly, it’s going to have to be business smart and it’s going to have to have a vision about how it works for or with business.

“It’s not going to be about Town Hall knows best, it’s going to be about the business working with the council and different councils working throughout Derbyshire and South Yorkshire, to actually get the right kind of approach.”

The proposals were largely welcomed by both sides of the chamber, although Labour councillors stopped short of giving the plans their full support. Cllr Tony Damms pointed out that some in the private sector are reluctant to get involved.

“They’re against it because they don’t feel they’ve been consulted” he said, “and they think it’s a bit rich to call on a set of proposals as major as these, and claim that the business community’s on side when they’ve not even been asked. They’ve been ignored.”

He went on to voice uncertainty about whether the LEP would be the shot in the arm that Mr Scriven says it will, “We don’t feel we can support the scrapping of the regional development agencies, such as Yorkshire Forward, and their replacement with the Local Enterprise Partnerships, because we don’t know how they will work.” He said, “We don’t know if it will stimulate the economy, and we don’t know if it’ll prioritise certain things that won’t help this city. We might be worse off with this option.”

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Scriven faces calls for resignation over Forgemasters

Sheffield City Council met today to debate the Forgemasters loan and the interim budget

Lib Dem council leader Paul Scriven faced calls for his resignation today, during a debate on the council’s handling of the Sheffield Forgemasters loan.

But Cllr Scriven says that Forgemasters executives welcome Vince Cable’s recent statement on the matter, and are positive about a review of the loan in the Autumn.

Councillor Bryan Lodge called directly for the Leader’s resignation, saying he had let down the 10,000 people who had signed a petition against the cancellation of the loan. “When will you do the honorable thing and resign, so we can have a member of your party who is a proper leader who will represent and stand up for Sheffield? Do it now.”

Cries of “resign” were also heard in the council chamber as Labour Cllr Harry Harpham requested an apology from Cllr Scriven for making “false and unfounded” excuses to justify the decision.

In a previous meeting of the council, Cllr Scriven echoed Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s allegation that Forgemasters shareholders had been unwilling to raise cash by diluting their share holdings. Mr Clegg admitted that this allegation was not true in a recent letter to Forgemasters’ Chief Executive Dr Graham Honeyman.

Questions were also asked about Cllr Scriven’s handling of the situation prior to the decision being taken to cancel the loan.

The council agreed on 7th June, ten days before the Forgemasters loan was cancelled, to write to Business Secretary Vince Cable outlining the importance of the investment. It has since emerged that the letter was not sent until 25th June, a week after the decision had been announced.

Acting Labour group leader Cllr Bryan Lodge, said “I call on members in this chamber of all parties to look at this and ask why this council did not write until after the decision was taken. Why did it take three weeks, and where is your support for Sheffield business and standing up for the people of this city?”

Lib Dem Cllr Mark Reynolds dismissed concerns over the lateness of the letters as “trivial.”

Labour Cllr Tony Damms said “We’re proud of our steel heritage in Sheffield. Given the chances and given the tools to do the job, we can make anything out of steel in this city. We’ve got a proud heritage, a proud past. And what Nick Clegg and the ConDems are doing is denying us a proud future.”

He also called for Mr Clegg to attend a public meeting to explain the reasons behind the decision.

“People don’t understand,” he said, “and I feel that some people in this chamber hope that by ignoring this issue it will go away. Well it isn’t going anywhere. ”

Cllr Scriven accused the Labour group of trying to “make cheap party political points” out of the issue.

He drew the council’s attention to a letter he has received from Graham Honeyman, Chief Executive of Sheffield Forgemasters. In the letter, Mr Honeyman welcomes the statement made by Mr Cable yesterday, in which he said that the decision may be reviewed in the autumn when the availability of public money “becomes clearer”.

In the letter, Mr Honeyman goes on to ask the council, across political boundaries, “to welcome the Secretary of State’s commitment, and give support for the company and that future review.”

Lib Dem Cllr Ian Aukland warned that the ongoing debate on the issue could have a detrimental effect on the business. “Forgemasters is a world class business.” He said, “We are in danger of making the world out there who are not following this in detail think there is a problem with Forgemasters, and there isn’t.”