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Greens seek to save vital services with budget amendment.

STOP PRESS

The Lib Dem budget was passed because Labour refused to vote against the cuts. The Green Party Councillors were the only ones to vote against the cuts.

Unlike Labour and the Lib Dems, the Green Party is vehemently opposed to cuts and is clear that the national deficit can be paid off by taxing the wealthy and the banks and closing tax loopholes. But at local level, Green councillors are determined to make the best of the difficult situation and have tabled a budget amendment which seeks to save services to the most vulnerable such as children, older people, disabled people , those on low incomes, unemployed people and victims of crime. They will find the money by re-introducing a charge for green sacks (garden waste collection service), cutting executive salaries, reducing the “discretionary” budgets for Community Assemblies and bringing Sheffield Homes (who run council housing) back in house.
They will also make a big investment (£6m) in fitting solar panels on council buildings and council houses, with the profits from the Feed in Tariff being returned to the council and the Housing Revenue Account, hence providing an income stream for 25 years.
Services their budget amendment would save include:
1) reverse the cut (21%) to Sure Start centres
2) reverse the cut to all advice centres and services
3) continue to fund 15 Police Community Support Officers
4) save Kirkhill day centre and residential service (for elderly people)
5) keep the full complement of one and a half disability access advice officers
6) reverse the cut to the Air Quality team
7) give extra support to the Affordable Warmth (insulation) team
8) keep an extra 4 officers in the decimated Private Rented Standards team
9) save  Rushey Meadows children’s respite centre (Lib Dems announced they would do this, but didn’t allocate a specific pot of money for it)
10) save Black Palm which offers mentoring to young people to keep them out of trouble
11) keep one officer to support Eco-schools
12) continue to fund Sheffield Renewables (which is developing small scale renewable energy projects).
They point out that their amendment can get through with support of either Labour and/or the Lib Dems.
Cllr Jillian Creasy said, “We oppose the cuts being imposed on us by government but we really do want to save these services. Redundancy notices are being issued now and services will have been damaged beyond repair by the time of the local elections in May.  We are willing to talk to the other parties to try to get this amendment accepted on Budget day.”
ENDS
Notes
1. For further info contact Cllr Creasy at jillian.creasy@sheffield.gov.uk or tel 07791 614 904
2. For information on how the Green Party would pay off the national deficit visit http://www.greenparty.org.uk/policies/banking_2010/banking_detail.html

Amendment to be moved by Councillor Robert Murphy, seconded by Councillor Jillian Creasy

That so much of the minutes of a meeting of the Cabinet held on 23rd February, 2011, as relates to the City Council’s Revenue Budget and Capital Programme 2011/2012, be amended by the substitution of the following resolution for those passed by the Cabinet:-

RESOLVED That: –

This Council:

(a)    abhors the cuts in local government spending being imposed by Central Government and regards them as unnecessary and unfair;

(b)    notes that the party of the smallest group is the only one to have set out a national budget showing how the deficit could be reduced through fair taxation, closing tax loopholes and investing in socially and environmentally sound projects and that this approach would also protect jobs, public services, welfare benefits and the well-being of future generations;

(c)    notes that the cuts have fallen disproportionately on northern metropolitan authorities, including Sheffield and regrets that the administration has failed to publicly acknowledge or campaign against the unfairness of the settlement;

(d)    notes that cuts in directly controlled council jobs and services, as well as cuts to the voluntary sector, external contractors and other partners, will have a knock-on effect on the rest of the local economy;

(e)    Recognises that as elected councillors we must nevertheless try to find ways to protect the most vulnerable and invest in those projects which will save or create jobs and income;

(f)    will therefore narrow the differential between highest and lowest paid council workers, thereby reducing the bill for executive salaries (council officers earning over £50k) by 5%, instructing the Chief Executive to propose a formula with the principle of requiring higher cuts for those on the highest salaries;

(g)    will reduce political spin emanating from the Town Hall by cutting the two political group support officer posts;

(h)    will further reduce the communications budget;

(i)    will make sure that scarce resources are spent on well planned and democratically chosen projects by reducing the discretionary funds for Community Assemblies;

(j)    will run council-owned housing more efficiently and democratically by bringing Sheffield Homes “in house”, with a shortened consultation to explain the rationale for doing so;

(k)    acknowledges that waste services in Sheffield are dominated by the 35 year contract first signed in 2001, when the present Administration was last in power, to invest in an oversized incinerator, and that bolting on additional kerbside recycling did not “get it right first time”, is very costly and has only marginally increased the total amount of material being recycled;

(l)    will therefore undertake a major review of waste management taking into account the true environmental benefits, local requirements, and practical consequences of any new scheme and linking with neighbouring local authorities, commercial and industrial waste management and related strategies such as the food plan;

(m)    will in the meantime incentivize people to compost their garden waste on site by re-introducing a small charge for green sacks;

(n)    recognises that many elderly people and their carers need the benefits of the comfort and security of specialist services rather than a menu of individualised home support and outings and will therefore save Kirkhill Day Centre and Residential Service which provides not only permanent beds but essential respite and day-care services;

(o)    recognises that respite is also vital for parents of children with disabilities and will therefore guarantee the funding for Rushey Meadows Respite Centre without further squeezing the Children and Young People’s budget;

(p)    wishes to support the independence and autonomy of disabled people and will therefore continue to fund the present quota of one and a half disability access officers;

(q)    recognises that benefits and debt advice is one of the most crucial services at a time of economic hardship and will therefore continue to fund all advice centres and services at the current level;

(r)    agrees with all the parties represented on the Council that support for children in the early years is a worthwhile investment and recognises that Sure Start Children’s Centres also encourage parents to help themselves and each other, contributing to community cohesion;

(s)    recognises that early years provision is threatened by:-

(i)    withdrawal of subsidies for the child care element of their activity;

(ii)    withdrawal of funding for other services provided under their roofs such as breast feeding peer support, citizen’s advice, ESOL; and

(iii)    the growing demand due to poverty, unemployment and new arrivals all of which place extra demands on their services;

(t)    will therefore not reduce the grant to Sure Start this year;

(u)    will also undertake a thorough review of the structure and work of the Multi Agency Support Teams to determine if there is any overlap with Sure Start and create a more efficient and streamlined service in which most families get the support they need from a front line community based provider;

(v)    also wishes to support older children and young people and will therefore continue to support Black Palm’s well established preventative work in mentoring young people and keeping them out of trouble;

(w)    recognises that the police service is also facing cuts and unprecedented pressures and that local communities have benefited from extra council-funded Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs), so will continue to fund 15 PCSOs thus releasing police funds to keep more “bobbies on the beat”;

(x)    recognises that the failure of the last government to invest in new council and affordable housing has led to more and more people turning to the private rented sector for accommodation and that enforcement of reasonable standards is vitally important, so will fund an extra four officers in the Private Rented Standards team;

(y)    recognises that the most cost efficient way to reduce carbon emissions, energy bills and hence fuel poverty is to insulate homes and will therefore provide extra funding to the Affordable Warmth team;

(z)    recognises the economic and environmental opportunity afforded by the Feed in Tariffs scheme to invest in renewable energy and thereby create jobs, save money and reduce Sheffield’s carbon footprint and will therefore draw down £6 million Invest to Save borrowing to support installing solar panels on council buildings (£1m) council houses (£5m):-

(i)    for Council buildings, this will allow the Council to own a share of the “Solar City” scheme currently being worked up and funded by Kier (though not yet reported to Cabinet) and the capital borrowing required will be from general funds; and

(ii)    for council housing, the funding for the capital borrowing will come from savings in the Housing Revenue Account made by bringing Sheffield Homes “in house” meaning that while council tenants will get free electricity the Feed in Tariff profits will be ploughed back into the HRA account providing an income source for the next 25 years;
(aa)    recognises that Sheffield Renewables are providing one of the few genuine renewable energy projects in the City and that, if successful, will also create a template for a local “green bank” whereby Sheffielders can invest their money in a sustainable project and will therefore continue funding them for a further year until they become self-sustaining;
(bb)    recognises the educational, environmental and economic benefit of the Eco-schools scheme and will retain one Council officer to support it;

(cc)    recognises the Council’s legal responsibility to produce and implement an effective Air Quality Plan for the City and will therefore reverse the cut to that team;
(dd)    will ensure that the following priorities are funded from the upcoming Local Transport Plan Settlement:-

(i)    prioritising the beginning of a roll out of a 20mph speed limit across the City, beginning with a 20 mph limit in the city centre; and

(ii)    making sure that new residents parking schemes that have not had a review get one at the earliest opportunity.

(ee)    accordingly instructs the Executive Director, Resources to implement the housing revenue budget, general fund revenue budget and the capital programme with the following amendments:-

Savings Proposals

Description Amount (£’000)
5% Cut in executive salaries 250
Reducing political group support posts 60
Reduction in communications budget 75
Reduction in community assembly budget 500
Charging for green sacks 1,500
TOTAL 2,385

Spending Proposals

Description Amount (£’000)
Reverse savings proposals relating to:
  • Kirkhill Resource Centre
200
  • Rushey Meadows Respite Centre
125
  • Disability Access Officers
18
  • Advice centres
96
  • Continuation of support to Surestart providers
805
  • Black Palm
26
  • PCSO’s
500
  • Private Rented Standards team
150
  • Air Quality Team
46
Debt Charges on “Feed in tariffs” investment of £1m 100
Sheffield renewables 19
Eco-schools scheme 50
Affordable Warmth team 250
TOTAL 2,385

Topics: Central, City Wide, Council, Councillors, Cuts, Disabilities, Energy, General, Health, Housing, Income, Jillian Creasy, Libraries, Rob Murphy

There are 4 Responses to Greens seek to save vital services with budget amendment.

5th March 2011

Yesterday was a total farce – the two ‘big’ parties spent the afternoon screaming and shouting at each other – only the Greens showed any real concern for the gravity of the things they were meant to be discussing. It makes you sick to the pit of your stomach it really does.

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  • 14th March 2011

    This is an excellent amendment – really great ideas, the right priorities – and showing that the Green Party could run Sheffield so much better than the other two

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