‘We’re trying to be as fair as possible’

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THE cuts were being made “as fairly as possible”, said Labour leader Julie Dore.

“We have done what we can in very difficult circumstances to make this budget a fair deal for the people of Sheffield,” she said.

“We are facing a huge funding gap not only this year, but in years to come so we need to make the right decisions now – and that means protecting the most vulnerable in our society first as well as safeguarding the city’s much-loved assets like libraries and parks.

“In an ideal world we would not have to make one person redundant or lose any money from services. However the scale of the budget challenge means that no areas are completely untouched.”

Labour says a lack of funding from central government means there is no choice.

The budget reduction of £54.7m over the next year follows £80m over the past year.

Altogether, around one quarter of spending has been cut. Staff have had their pay and increments frozen for two years. At the same time, there has been no rise in council tax.

But Coun Simon Clement-Jones, Liberal Democrat shadow cabinet member for finance, said: “This council has to save money just like everyone else.

“However, since Labour came into power they have agreed to spend an extra £2.5m on the Park Hill project and have appointed eight council officers who are on more than £50,000 a year salaries.”

The Lib Dems are opposing the proposed switch from weekly to fortnightly black bin collections, which is also part of the package of savings, and this week they criticised Labour for preparing to spend £400,000 on a communications campaign to publicise the bin changes.

Local leader Coun Shaffaq Mohammed said: “This money should have been used to save some of the 550 jobs they have just announced will be axed, including the 40 jobs that will go thanks to their decision to axe weekly bins.”