More Lib Dem Fake News
The Liberal Democrats are once more spreading ‘fake news’ about Sheffield City Council subsidising Leisure Centres in Scarborough. Despite numerous rebuttals from Sheffield’s Labour Councillors, throughout the recent Pandemic, Lib Dem members in Sheffield have once more turned to fake news in their election literature. Devoid of any original ideas of their own to offer up to voters in Sheffield during the run up to May’s local election they have turned instead to unsubstantiated rumours regarding funding intended for Sheffield’s leisure centres instead ending up paying for leisure facilities in Scarborough.
The allegations are centred around the £16 million in emergency funding from the Council to Sheffield City Trust (formerly Sheffield International Venues) the arms length charitable organisation who are responsible for the day to day running of the majority of Sheffield’s publicly owned leisure facilities. The funding was used to ensure the continued survival of Sheffield’s leisure centres during the Pandemic. The Lib Dems are claiming that some of the funding was diverted to Scarborough to cover losses at the facilities in the town run by Sheffield International Venues on behalf of Scarborough Council, claims strongly denied by both the Council and Sheffield City Trust.
Indeed the independent Chair of Sheffield City Trust has written to the Leader of the Lib Dems with a strong rebuke of their claims saying “Sheffield City Council has been clear in all funding negotiations that no council funds can be spent in another local authority area. Sheffield’s council taxpayers have not and will not subsidise losses in Scarborough.” He went on to say; “it is unreasonable to make inaccurate statements about a local charity”.
The Lib Dems fail to acknowledge that Labour councillors stepped in to save Sheffield leisure centres from permanent closure because of the pandemic, and it has been confirmed that “no council funds can be spent in another area.”
Additionally Sheffield South East MP Clive Betts has said “I previously informed residents of the difficulties the Council has faced with the loss of income for leisure centres. As a result the Council have had to spend upwards of £16 million in subsidising the Trust and other organisations which run centres like Ponds Forge in order that they could re-open and stay in business.
Initially, the Council lost out on Government funding because unlike leisure facilities run directly by Councils where the Government compensated them for some of their loss of income, as Sheffield leisure centres are run by an arms length organisation that money was not immediately forthcoming.
I have now had a meeting with senior officials at the National Audit Office and it has been confirmed that the Council is entitled to and has received a significant Government contribution towards the costs they have had to spend on subsidising the running of our leisure centres. That is excellent news. Just to make it clear the Council could only get that money from the Government because the money that they have already spent has been used to keep Sheffield leisure centres open. Unlike the false reports from some people, none of that money has been spent on Scarborough or leisure centres anywhere else apart from Sheffield.”
It seems that once more the Lib Dems are playing politics with a pandemic and using this to try to score cheap points during the local election campaign.
Below we have a copy of the letter to Cllr Shaffaq Mohammed from the Chair of the Sheffield City Trust