Parking fees up, library hours cut and parks hit

John Mothersole ' 'We have made the council leaner and more effective'
John Mothersole ' 'We have made the council leaner and more effective'

DRIVERS are set to pay 10% more to park in Sheffield city centre – and double the current 20p an hour charge for pay and display in district shopping centres.

And they will no longer be able to find a free spot in corners of three city parks.

Charges are being planned for car parks and other hard surfaced areas at Hillsborough, Graves and Endcliffe Park, which are being used by commuters.

Consultations will be held with Friends groups but the idea is to install ticket machines, with some of the money raised being used to pay for car park surfacing.

Price rises are part of the package announced this week to help the council find £80m of savings in response to swingeing cuts in Government grants.

The authority said it was aiming to reduce ‘back office’ costs by 30% over the next two years to try to avoid hitting front-line services but the cuts go to the grass roots.

While basic maintenance will be kept, six park rangers are to go as the number of teams is reduced from four to three. A community forester’s job is also being axed.

Three trusts – Green Estate, Sheffield Wildlife Trust and Yorkshire Wildlife Trust – are to have their grants cut by 15%. Recreation hire costs are rising by up to 10%.

No library closures are planned but each will be open for two to three fewer hours a week.

The council is asking communities to step in. “Over the next year and as soon as possible we want to work with local community groups and individuals to see how the community can get involved in running the libraries,” said chief executive John Mothersole.

The number of mobile libraries will be cut from four to one.

Opening hours of Sheffield’s four recycling centres are to be cut, with a commitment to ensuring they are not all closed at the same time and keeping them open during the peak times of weekends and bank holidays.

The budgets of the Community Assemblies are being protected and they are set to play a more influential role in deciding how council money is spent.

Numbers of Police Community Support Officers are being reduced from 140 to 117, with the authority aiming to protect community safety by having one uniformed team combining police support officers, Sheffield Homes’ representatives and civic ambassadors.

The 101 telephone service to report anti-social behaviour is being retained.

In the city centre, night-time security in parts such as the Peace Gardens are to be scrapped, with the police and civic ambassadors expected to respond to incidents. Some floral displays will be cut back and no new Christmas lights will be bought.

But extra money is being allocated to some priority services. An additional £1.5m will be invested in supporting Sheffield businesses that have the potential to expand whilst the council will top up the new £24m Early Intervention Grant by £2.8m to support families and children.

Mr Mothersole said: “Our predictions for the budget settlement were accurate and we have not been complacent in planning for this amount of budget savings. We have made the council leaner and more effective in the use of resources we have which has demanded a more innovative and challenging outlook.

“Sheffield has a strong and dynamic network of partners and voluntary sector which we will look to for support in ensuring the city continues to deliver for its residents and businesses.”

Council leader Paul Scriven said: “We will invest in those services that local people value the most and at the same time support our most vulnerable citizens.”