Protest as town hall budget is set

A DEMONSTRATION will be held outside Sheffield town hall tomorrow (Friday) as councillors set a budget for the next year that reflects £80m cuts and an extra 270 job losses.

Trade unions are staging a protest at spending plans that they say will have a severe impact on local government services in the city.

The council says the number of jobs lost since last summer will be 731 by the end of the year, taking into account voluntary redundancies and unfilled vacancies, but unions claim the figure will be higher.

At the annual budget meeting, ruling Liberal Democrats will aim to steer through their proposals, despite having no overall majority.

However, the Labour opposition has indicated that it wants the people of Sheffield to decide at the next local elections in May which party should run the council instead of seeing the Lib Dems defeated tomorrow.

The Lib Dems say their financial strategy aims to protect frontline services by cutting back on managerial and other ‘back office’ positions.

It is also based around a freeze on council tax over the next 12 months.

Unions say the impact of the spending cuts will run much deeper.

Among the protesters will be library staff who have formed a campaign group, Library Workers For A Brighter Future.

A spokesperson said: “The proposed cuts to Sheffield Library Service will mean a massively reduced mobile library capacity, reductions in opening hours at most branches and the loss of around 33 full-time staff posts.

“In small service points many of the activities will have to go – these include babytimes and storytimes.

“Linked in with proposed cuts to Surestart, this is a double whammy to parents of under-fives. Despite the fact that we have been assured that no libraries will close this year, there is still another £1.1m to come off the library budget in 2012/13 and 2013/14. It is hard to see how this won’t lead to closures.”

The campaign group are urging people to go to their local library on Saturday at 11am and to start reading, taking signs and banners to explain their opposition to cuts in public services.