Sheffield’s Response to the Refugee Crisis

 

A number of constituents – with the full range of views – have contacted me in recent weeks concerning the refugee crisis in Syria and the Council’s response, so I thought I would post the text below.

I appreciate that the position below won’t please everyone and I understand there are different perspectives. But having worked with refugees over a number of years and spoken recently to people who have experienced persecution and abuse and made their way here, I couldn’t support a position that didn’t reflect our common and shared humanity.
Councillor Jack Scott and Councillor Mike Drabble at a meeting in Arbourthorne, saying "Refugees Welcome"

Councillor Jack Scott and Councillor Mike Drabble at a meeting in Arbourthorne, saying “Refugees Welcome”


As the UK’s first City of Sanctuary, we will play our part in the resettlement of Syrian refugees as part of the UK’s response to the refugee crisis.

The British government determines how many refugees are allowed into the country and has committed to take 20,000 people over five years from refugee camps in countries bordering Syria.

In Sheffield we have a strong tradition of helping those fleeing persecution. We were the first authority to take part in the Government’s Gateway Protection Programme and have done so for the last 11 years. We already have a funded agreement to resettle 130 refugees from other countries this year (2015/16).

The current situation is a great concern to us. So we have made an immediate offer to Government to resettle ten to fifteen families from Syria as soon as possible, and are open to further talks with them about playing our part in the future national resettlement programme. This is in addition to our current Gateway agreement.

We have offered to take this number initially as we know we can successfully resettle fifty people immediately. We will continue to play our part in resettlement as part of the national programme after this first phase.

The support provided to people will be directly funded by Central Government. This is essential because we know, through our experiences over the last decade, that we need the resources in place to support people. Support includes housing support, English language teaching, and support in finding work.

We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of Sheffield people wanting to help. We are working with other organisations and local charities to pull together information on how people can volunteer and donate to support people fleeing Syria.

In the meantime people who want to make a donation to help support refugees can do this online through the Refugee Council at www.refugeecouncil.org.uk


I hope this is a useful update. If you require more information, please contact me.
Yvette Cooper’s speech on this issue is also well worth reading.

Interview with Radio Sheffield on Jeremy Corbyn

Yesterday, I was interviewed by Toby Foster about the future of the Labour Party now Jeremy Corbyn has been elected leader.

 

You can listen again here:

 

 

Speech to Full Council: Reflection on The Election

I’d like to take a moment to reflect on the  national results.

It’s clear now that the votes that cast on 7th May will have profound implications on our country and our city for a generation. Fewer than 10% of Sheffield’s votes were for the Tories.

It’s naturally tempting to crow about the Liberal Democrat’s defeats or the Green’s and UKIP’s failures, but I really don’t want to do that.

Because, for many of us, the prospect of the next five years of true-blue Tory government is a truly nightmare scenario, which fills us with nothing less than dread.

And this new threat requires a different response. We must not spend the next five years throwing rocks at each other and shouting and blaming each other.

We will have to work together across Sheffield’s different sectors, its different communities and its different interests to protect the city that we love – whoever, however and wherever.

Building a city of social justice, equality and fairness is difficult at the best of times.

But unless we bring Sheffield together, it will be nearly impossible with this Tory government, with very real consequences for all our constituents:

  • Our local NHS will probably not survive as we know it – unless we work together.
  • Our education system will become more marketised and fragmented – unless we work together
  • Our Council will continue to lose money as it’s taken from us and given to the South – unless we work together
  • Britain will be marginalised and weakened in Europe – unless we work together.
  • We will see our basic rights at work and our basic rights as humans watered down and sold off – unless we work together.
  • People with disabilities will be vilified and isolated by a cruel welfare system – unless we work together.
  • Our young and the poor will continue to pay for the mistakes of the old and the rich – unless we work together.
  • Our environment and our beautiful local National Park will be fracked, pillaged and polluted – unless we work together.
  • And the people of Sheffield, who work so hard, will not see their living standards improve – unless we work together.

I’d like to finish by saying it’s clear our city now faces many, new, potent threats.

But it’s also clear that there is a renewed resolve amongst local people to work together, to stand up for Sheffield and to protect the city we represent.

This resolve has helped us overcome threats in the past and I am sure it will do so again over the next five years and I will do everything I can – whoever, however and wherever – to protect our city from these threats.

*** CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY***

New traffic measures approved by Sheffield Cabinet

A pedestrian crossing has been given the go-ahead at the site of an accident that led to the death of a 14 year old schoolgirl earlier this year.

A petition containing 12,571 signatures was handed in to Sheffield City Council requesting a controlled pedestrian crossing and speed restrictions on Normanton Hill.

This followed the incident on 9 May near the Richmond Park entrance when 14 year old Jasmyn Chan was fatally injured and another 12 year old girl was seriously injured.

A report approved by the Council’s Cabinet explaining the measures that have been taken since the accident and setting out plans for the installation of a pedestrian crossing on Normanton Hill has been approved.

Councillor Jack Scott, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Recycling and Streetscene said: “This was a truly tragic incident and we take it extremely seriously, as we do all road safety issues. The local ward councillors and I have worked closely with community activists to make sure we take positive action on this stretch of road to make it safer.

”We have already been working with our partners to reduce the speed of vehicles using Normanton Hill. The police have been undertaking regular speed enforcement checks and improvements have been made to the warning signs on the road. The Streets Ahead Improvement work in that area will include new, brighter street lights to ensure the park entrance and bus stop are properly lit. The pavement also needs widening. Tenants and private home owners have also been asked to cut back the vegetation hanging over the footpath.

“Our road safety teams are working with the Birley Community College and Outwood Academy to educate children and reinforce road safety messages to their students, but I don’t think this is enough. We need a permanent controlled crossing point to improve pedestrian safety for everyone needing to cross that road and so I’m pleased that the report to Cabinet is going to make this happen.”

Streets Ahead work has already commenced on this road with the renewal of street lighting. Surfacing of the road, as far as the park entrance, was carried out in August and the Council has funded the addition of a higher skid resistant material at the crossing point as part of these works.

South Yorkshire Police agreed to undertake speed enforcement in the short term and camera enforcement signs were installed. Mobile speed enforcement has taken place at regular intervals since July and to date 471 speeding offences have been identified.

In the short term the Council will be installing two VAS’s (Vehicle Activated Signs) to flash a warning to motorists to indicate the park entrance or school crossing patrol at the appropriate times of the day. The signs are being manufactured by a specialist company and will be installed this week.

Sandra Bradley, who is coordinating the work of the local community said: “It’s good to see that the Council are taking this issue most seriously. I’m so pleased with the way the community has come together after this terrible tragedy to help find solutions to the problems, but it is dreadful that so many drivers are still driving at such reckless and dangerous speeds in what is a 30 mile speed limit.

“The controlled crossing proposed in the Cabinet paper is what’s needed here. It’s also positive that the Council has agreed to name this crossing after Jasmyn as a way of keeping other children safe.  ‘Jazzy’s Crossing’ will not only be a lasting tribute to a very courageous teenager, but more importantly help to prevent any further tragedies on this very dangerous stretch of road.”

The Road Safety Education, Training and Publicity team has contacted both Birley Community College and Outwood Academy and is in the process of booking road safety education sessions with these schools. Both schools have already confirmed sessions with all Year 7 and 8 pupils and sessions with the other year groups will be confirmed shortly. These sessions will be delivered throughout this academic year.

Unprecedented Improvement in Condition of Sheffield’s Roads

Sheffield’s roads are in much better condition than this time last year, a survey carried out by the National Highways and Transport (NHT) Network has revealed.

The NHT’s Public Satisfaction Survey, which has independently questioned over 420,000 members of the public across the country about the highways and transport services in their area, found there has been remarkable 10 per cent increase in satisfaction of the road surfaces in Sheffield since last year.

This is thanks to the Streets Ahead team who are working hard to improve the city’s highways.

The survey also shows more people are satisfied with the highways services carried out as part of the Streets Ahead project including:

  •  An almost 10 per cent increase in satisfaction about the quality of repair to highways.
  •  Around a five per cent increase in satisfaction in the speed that repairs are carried out.
  • A four per cent increase in satisfaction in how damage to the highways and potholes are dealt with.

The NHT findings have been backed by a survey undertaken by Streets Ahead too.

The Streets Ahead team conducted a survey with residents who live in areas where highways work has already been completed.
Results show that there has been an impressive 33 per cent increase in the number of residents who are very satisfied with the condition of Sheffield’s roads in comparison to when they first asked residents what they thought.

The Streets Ahead survey also saw an increase in satisfaction in the condition of pavements (20 per cent), street lighting (35 per cent), maintenance of highway verges, trees and shrubs (five per cent), and the cleanliness of the roads and pavements (11 per cent).

Cllr Jack Scott, Sheffield City Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Recycling and Streetscene said: “The findings from both the National Highways and Transport Network’s survey and the Streets Ahead survey are really positive for Sheffield. They show us that the work we are doing is successfully turning Sheffield’s roads from some of the worst in the country to the best. This is a huge project but it’s great to see that we’re achieving what we set out to – smoother roads, better lighting, an improved environment and higher levels of public satisfaction.

“To date the Streets Ahead team has resurfaced over 280 miles of road and repaired over 22,700 potholes and we’re still going.”
Streets Ahead Core Investment Period Director, Graeme Symonds, added: “The findings from the surveys are really useful to Streets Ahead as they enable us to see how we’re progressing and what the public think of the improvements that we’re making. This is important to us and the fact that both surveys are showing such a significant increase in satisfaction is great news.

“Improvements to the highways will continue for the next three years and by the end of this period, residents and visitors to the city should see a huge difference to the condition of road surfaces across Sheffield.

“We’ll continue to carry out surveys as work progresses to monitor residents’ opinions of the improvements being made to the city.”

UK gender Pay Gap Increases Due To Government Cuts