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A Green Budget to protect public services and make the city a better place to live

Sheffield Green councillors have delivered an amendment to Sheffield City Council’s proposed budget for 2017/18.

The proposed Green Party amendments would secure additional funding for vital public services, particularly social care facilities and public libraries, improve air quality across the city, create further jobs and homes for Sheffield residents, and improve accountability and transparency in Council operations.

Commenting on the amendment, Green Councillor Douglas Johnson said,

“We believe that our proposed amendment will deliver for Sheffield and its people. Greens are proposing alternatives to the proposed Council budget to secure funding for public services, improve air quality, and create jobs.

“We also want to improve transparency and accountability with measures such as broadcasting Council meetings online, cutting pay for the Council’s highest earners, and properly scrutinising long-term outsourced contracts such as the on-going Streets Ahead contract with Amey, which will require an additional £4.5 million this year alone.

“We call on the council to recognise the need to keep vital public services running and secure the long-term health, safety and future of the city and all its residents by supporting this amendment.”

One of the central appeals of the amendment, which will be debated at the Council meeting on Friday 3rd March, is offering to reverse cuts in funding for the Hurlfield View respite centre for people with dementia and their families.  It will also reverse cuts in funding for library staff and drug and alcohol rehabilitation treatment centres, as well as boosting the voluntary sector by reversing a cut to equality and fairness grants.

On the Hurlfield View proposals, Cllr Johnson said,

“The 5,000-signature petition brought to full council in February made it very clear how much the staff and facilities at Hurlfield View mean to the families caring for relatives with advanced dementia at home.  Already we are hearing reports of other providers refusing to accept people with “challenging” conditions.

“This situation has come about by the “marketisation” of the NHS.  Hurlfield View is owned by the council by staffed by the Health & Social Care Trust.  Instead of acting like profit-making private businesses, these public sector organisations need to provide a public service that is wanted.”

The Green budget proposals, if passed, will also improve the long-term health of many citizens by tackling air pollution, which contributes to the deaths of 500 people in Sheffield each year. Last month, Sheffield Greens launched their ‘Let Sheffield Breathe’ campaign, calling on the Council to act quickly and reduce dangerous and illegal levels of pollution across the city.

The proposal supports a 20mph road safety zone in the city centre, incentives for electric or low-emissions taxis and new investment in public-facing air pollution monitors in the city. This will allow new air pollution monitoring stations to have a display so the public can see how much pollution is around them each day.

There will be a big increase of £300,000 funding to promote healthy travel to work by cycling and walking.

There will be energy-efficient investments in schools and a new pilot scheme for innovative, low-cost, high-efficiency “container homes” as an experiment in low-cost council housing [1].

Resources for new homes will also go to using brownfield sites for redevelopment to protect the greenbelt and other protected areas in the city.

Rented housing will be boosted by additional investment in the council’s private sector housing team and further investment in bringing empty homes back into use.  There will be benefits for residents in the most congested and polluted areas of the city, in terms of reducing permit parking fees to 2010 levels, to be paid for by parking charges from non-residents.  Money set aside to develop ideas of a “workplace parking levy” could help Sheffield catch up with other cities to address city centre air pollution from commuters driving to work instead of using other forms of transport.

Funding will support a new weekend night bus to ensure students get home safely after a night out in a vibrant city centre and the proposal sets aside money to investigate a scheme to offer more policing and services related to the night-time economy.

The budget will be balanced by reducing pay on high-earning posts within the Council and scrapping Group Policy Officer positions in favour of requiring politicians to do their own research and press work.

Download the full budget amendment here (pdf).

Read Cllr Douglas Johnson’s speech proposing the budget amendment here.

[1] This is to support the people at Reach homes –  https://www.reachhomes.org/ and see http://www.thestar.co.uk/our-towns-and-cities/sheffield/world-first-eco-home-in-sheffield-could-be-yours-for-65-000-1-8252245

Topics: air pollution, City Wide, Council, Cuts, Douglas Johnson, Featured, Health

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