Dear Cllr Dore,
Having seen your letter to the Observer I am writing to express my disappointment at your claim – that measures to reduce the national deficit, which we inherited from the Labour Party, will lead to a break up of civil society in Sheffield and elsewhere.
Everyone is aware of the tough decisions required, both at a national and local level, to get our country back on track to build a stronger economy and a fairer society. When my party ran the Council we had to reduce spending whilst protecting front line services, just like you have a responsibility to do now. No one denies this fact, but we all owe it to the people of Sheffield to tell them the full story.
The people of Sheffield deserve to know, as you know, some of the wasteful spending you have agreed to – such as paying dozens of employees to carry out trade union duties instead of doing their job and allocating more than £2.2m for Town Hall meeting room refurbishments.
They also deserve to know that in the last financial year the Council showed a budget surplus of £6.2m and the latest statement of accounts shows £167m of ‘useable reserves’. In addition to this, of the £5.3m investment provided to the Council via the Government’s New Homes Bonus over the last two years – you have spent just £225K to date.
It is inexplicable that you have allowed this investment to sit in the Council’s coffers when it should be used to protect front line services.
People also deserve to know that far from giving Sheffield a raw deal, this Coalition Government is investing billions in our great city.
There is the £2billion project to repair every single road, pavement and streetlight inSheffield, which is now underway and creating an extra 500 new local jobs. Sheffield’s ‘City Deal’ is worth up to £500m and provides thousands of new job opportunities and the investment to kick-start regeneration in the City Centre and new transport infrastructure. A £10m new Sheffield University Technical College will provide hundreds of local youngsters a route into work when it opens next year. Sheffield will also benefit from the electrification of the Midland Mainline and High Speed Rail.
This is just a snapshot. So it is a shame that you refuse to give the full story to the people of Sheffield, instead choosing to preside over wasting taxpayer’s money in the Town Hall and scaremongering in the media.
Your prediction of unrest on the streets of Sheffield is in line with David Blunkett MP when he warned of a ‘post-soviet meltdown’ in which ‘people will be left to fend for themselves’ two years ago. Apart from being wrong, this is a slight on our local Police Force who have achieved reductions in crime with a smaller budget at their disposal.
This is nothing more than the politics of fear designed to cause maximum anxiety whilst having little regard for reality.
I would urge you to put aside narrow party political interests and work across party lines to help provide the strong leadership that Sheffield requires.
Nick Clegg MP
Nick Clegg is the Liberal Democrat MP for Sheffield Hallam and Leader of the Liberal Democrats