Council ‘corrects’ Clegg over city budget

REPEATED claims made by Nick Clegg over Sheffield Council’s budget have been “corrected” in a letter sent to the Deputy Prime Minister and Sheffield Hallam MP by the authority’s chief executive.

Mr Clegg has attacked the Labour-led council on several occasions in recent weeks, particularly when it announced that it would be forced to close the city’s Don Valley Stadium to save cash.

The Liberal Democrat leader joined Councillor Shaffaq Mohammed, the leader of the party in Sheffield, to point out that £2m was currently being spent on Town Hall renovations, consultants and said it held £167m in reserves.

Sign up to our Politics newsletter

The letter refuting the claims, from John Mothersole, was written after a full meeting of the council told him to deal with “recent inaccuracies and misrepresentations with regard to various aspects of council expenditure”.

In the letter, Mr Mothersole seeks to clarify “three key issues” and explains to Mr Clegg the inaccuracy of figures recently quoted on the Town Hall revamp, the cost of outside consultants and reserves.

The letter says: “The reality is that the council is spending some money on the maintenance of the Town Hall but this is because it requires such maintenance to ensure it is kept in reasonable condition and continues to be safe.

“The amount of expenditure this year and next will be in the region of £600,000. This is equally not being spent on Town Hall meeting rooms, but is primarily on exterior stone work, leaking roofs, electrical safety and lift maintenance.”

Mr Mothersole adds that the £4.7m cost of outside consultants quoted by the Lib Dems is also wrong, with the real figure being £543,000, while reserves quoted at £167m are nearer £60m of which much is already earmarked for spending on future costs.

Sheffield Council will meet today to agree its budget for 2013/14 with councillors expected to rubber stamp suggestions for cuts of £50m this financial year.