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Harman should explain why Sheffield Labour are choosing waste over local services – Hughes

April 27, 2012 3:28 PM
Originally published by East Midlands Liberal Democrats

Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader, Simon Hughes, joined Liberal Democrat councillors in Sheffield today to highlight more than £4m of wasteful spending by Labour locally.

The figures were revealed while Labour Deputy Leader, Harriet Harman, visited the city, attempting to defend Labour's waste on Sheffield City Council.

Local Liberal Democrat councillors are campaigning to save Sheffield's weekly bin collections, vital recycling services and local dementia homes, placed under threat of closure by Labour councillors.

Senior Sheffield Labour councillors have argued that no money is available but figures released today show a staggering £4.2m of wasteful spending.

In the last 12 months Labour councillors have:

  • Approved £2.2m to refurbish Town Hall meeting rooms;
  • Agreed £400,000 to communicate' their plan to reduce bin collections;
  • Rejected a plan to save £1.2m by reducing the pay of senior officials;
  • Refused to reduce the £400,000 bill to fund full time Trade Union officials;
  • Scrapped Liberal Democrat plans which would have given the lowest paid council workers a permanent £250 pay rise both this year and next year.

In addition to this, Labour councillors turned down extra funds from the Government to help save Sheffield's weekly bin collections.

Commenting, Simon Hughes said:

"Labour needs to understand that elections are about priorities: protecting essential services and helping the most vulnerable. Whatever the financial circumstances, councils like Sheffield and others across the country run by Labour are making things worse by investing in the wrong priorities - spending millions refurbishing town hall meeting rooms whilst cutting dementia care.

"Liberal Democrats across the country are standing on a record of making the right calls for their communities in difficult times while Labour is trying desperately to turn attention away from their own records because they can't defend their terrible local record of slashing key services.

"No Liberal Democrat-controlled council in England is closing their libraries and some are opening new ones. Every Liberal Democrat council has frozen Council Tax and our councils have given the lowest paid workers a pay rise more frequently than Labour's. This comes on top of record rises in the state pension and giving nearly 25m basic-rate tax payers an Income Tax cut last year, this year and next year.

"Labour accepts the need to cut the deficit, but nationally have come forward with no credible plans for what they would do. Their record locally can only demonstrate what a disaster for our country another Labour government would have been.

"Instead of justifying plans to cut services unnecessarily, Harriet Harman should be asking her Labour colleagues what they are doing to tackle wasteful spending."

In addition

In March, Liberal Democrat councillors put forward a plan to save local services, which was signed off by independent council finance officers. Unfortunately, this plan was voted down by Labour councillors.

  1. Labour-run Sheffield has approved a scheme to revamp meeting rooms in Sheffield Town Hall at a cost of £2.2 million - despite them having to make £55 million of cuts to services. This follows a £1.1 million refurbishment of the roof, wiring and lifts at the Grade I-listed building.

  1. Liberal Democrats were planning a permanent £250 pay rise for the lowest paid council workers this year and next year. Labour cancelled this.

  1. Labour-run South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority had been planning to spend £400,000 on luxury cars for three executives. At the same time, the Authority will be closing fire stations and cutting staff numbers to meet budget targets. he plans were put on hold after Liberal Democrat Councillor Paul Scriven put forward a motion to rethink the proposals.