The people of Sheffield questioned council policy-makers on subjects from housing and poverty to sport and the environment at the first Star Cabinet last night. Each member of Sheffield Council’s decision-making group, along with Chief Executive John Mothersole, explained the authority’s strategy in a wide-ranging and largely productive (if occasionally confrontational) session. Questions covered a wide range of topics, from business and transport to heritage and the environment and even indoor bowls. But Councillors were happy to answer their constituents directly. “An opportunity like this is very much appreciated, because it’s very valuable for us to engage,” said Council Leader Julie Dore.
A particularly wide-ranging question came from Peter Sephton, Chairman of Sheffield City Centre Residents’ Action Group, who asked why the Council wasn’t co-operating more with community organisations to tackle ongoing problems. He spoke about street drinking, rough sleeping and begging, and the increasing number of off-licences in West Street. “Community groups are the eyes and ears of the community,” he said. “We are on the street all day long watching what’s going on.” Councillor Jayne Dunn (responsible for housing) said she would be happy to come along to the group’s next meeting. On begging and homelessness, she said a new community safety team had been set up, and added: “Compared to many core cities there are hardly any [rough sleepers] – but one is still too many.”
Tree felling was raised by Richard Ward, who asked Councillor Bryan Lodge (responsible for the environment) to clarify why he said protesters were costing taxpayers ‘millions’ at last Friday’s budget meeting. Councillor Lodge said there was a clause in the contract that said any delay not caused by Streets Ahead partner Amey was the Council’s responsibility. He added: “Amey is not paid per tree. They are paid a fixed rate, and there are milestones they have to achieve.”
Questions from Shelley Cockayne and Ron Clayton covered heritage, from the Central Library to Castlegate. Councillors promised announcements soon on the Old Town Hall, the University Arms and the Sheffield Castle site, under the old Castle Market. Mike Hodson asked where pupils to fill the new Bannerdale School would come from, and Nathan Archer asked who would foot the bill if any dangerous gases were found in later years, as the site may be contaminated. George Coiley asked about jobs in the climate sector and their role in Sheffield City Region, Andrew Oldfield questioned the Council’s position on electrification of the Midland Mainline, and Stuart Wilson called on the council to provide a new building for indoor bowlers.
Please follow the link below which takes you to the article but then click on the link to the video, half way down the article. The sound is not the best but if you go to 43 minutes you will see our own Ron Clayton raise some really good questions and you will hear a clear statement from the deputy leader of the Council, Leigh Bramall about the Castle site.