Liberal Democrat Alternative Budget gives real power over to people

The Sheffield Liberal Democrats want to revolutionise how Sheffield City Council makes decisions, by devolving over £1million of spending power over to local Councillors and communities.

Councillor Penny Baker, Shadow cabinet member for Finance and Resources said

“The current Labour council’s “we-know-best” attitude is not working. Every month at the Full Council meeting there is a different petition presented with thousands of signatures protesting some top-down decision whether its trees, libraries or care homes but nothing changes.

“Our budget amendment shows that the Liberal Democrats have a different approach. It is our belief as liberals that often the best people to make decisions are the people that are directly affected by those decisions, not the people sat in the Town Hall.”

“We want to listen to the people we are here to represent and give as much power back to the people of Sheffield as possible.”

By making simple savings and spending money differently, such as a small pay cut for the highest paid Council staff, cutting taxpayer subsidies for Trade Unions, saving on consultants and devolving Local Transport Funding and New Homes Bonus money, the Liberal Democrats would:

  • Save Hurlfield View dementia respite centre from closure;
  • Devolve £1.4 million of Local Transport Funding to local communities to spend on the highway improvements that they think are the most important. This could be spent on safe crossings for school pupils, such as the badly needed crossings for school children at Hangingwater Road in Fulwood and at Station Road in Halfway
  • Establish a new “Greener Neighbourhoods Fund” of almost £1million to be spent by local people on improving their local environment, whether that be through retaining highway trees, park improvements, innovative recycling schemes or community gardens;
  • Clean up Sheffield by investing in a task force to crack down on litter, fly tipping, graffiti and dog mess to and reduce a small cut to this budget. This could also generate income for the Council by increasing the number of fines issued to people who don’t respect our city;
  • Introduce free evening and Sunday parking in the city centre to encourage footfall and help city centre business to thrive;
  • Invest in regeneration projects for Woodseats and Hillsborough centres with unused funds earmarked for bringing empty shops back into use;
  • Investigate the possibility of a “Sheffield Pound”, a local currency that would encourage spending on local business;
  • Fund more staff posts in the Council’s Private Sector Housing team to deal with some of the problems in the city’s fast growing private rented housing sector;
  • Support Citizen’s Advice Bureau with an increase in grant funding;
  • Put aside extra funding for more school crossing patrols that do not qualify for a patrol under the Council’s current criteria, to bring these back to 2011 levels;
  • Support Sheffield’s foster carers, who look after some of our cities most challenging and vulnerable children, and encourage more people to sign up to become foster families with a discretionary Council Tax break. This has the potential to save the Council millions in reducing the amount spent on agency foster placements;
  • Support Associate Libraries and their volunteers by providing professional librarian support;
  • Give a small budget to local Councillors to spend on commissioning activities for young and old people in their areas, to replace some of the lost activities from the closure of Activity Sheffield.

Shaffaq Mohammed, Leader of the Liberal Democrats added

“Local Government finances have been difficult over the past 6 years, no one is denying that. However, there have still been choices to be made about how the Labour Council spends our money.

I believe that often the Labour Council has made the wrong choices, cutting front line services such as libraries and parksbudgets, whilst they have spent continued to spend millions on Council spin doctors, political pet projects in their favoured areas and protected tax payer subsidies to the Labour party’s Trade Union paymasters.”

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