Council budget cuts mean we need to be ambitious.

After councils throughout the country announced an increase in council tax, Alexis Krachai argues that ambition, jobs and investment are the answer.

Not long ago everyone was talking about austerity. Not anymore. The focus is on Brexit, Trump and fake news. Make no mistake though, budgets are still being cut; left, right and centre.

It is rare that town hall bosses are applauded but they have had to handle massive budget cuts over the last seven years. In each year, they have managed to balance what they get and what they spend. That is not an easy task when there is increasing pressure on Council coffers.

The pressure is only increasing. Next year the Council is going to have to find an extra £40million to balance the books. We need to reverse this trend. How can Council budgets can grow? What do we need to do to spend more money on essential services that benefit everyone in the city?

The answer is simple. We need to create new jobs and help businesses to invest. The more jobs created, the more companies that grow, the more money the Council receives. By 2020 all of the money received from businesses will be spent by our Council rather than by officials in Whitehall. That’s good news for our economy and good news for the city. Being in control of what we spend will help Sheffield to become more successful.

What does this mean in reality? We need to attract businesses to invest in Sheffield. The news that the supercar company McLaren is coming to town is terrific. We need to be equally welcoming to companies who want to bring their money and jobs to any part of Sheffield. Nowadays companies can invest anywhere they want to; Sheffield needs to be open for business.

That does not mean every business should be allowed to do what they want and build where they want. The Council has a planning department that is well known for making developers work hard to meet the standards the city expects. These standards will not slip but it is inevitable that Council bosses will need to think about how new developments can help fund essential services.

We live in challenging times. We need more and more money to fund services that benefit a population that is growing older. The government is placing more pressure on Councils to do more with less. There is only one solution – jobs, jobs, jobs.

Show that Sheffield is open for business

In his monthly Sheffield Telegraph column, our MD Alexis explores the issues, the opportunities and the wider context that affects the city of Sheffield. This month, he writes about the expectations for 2017, after a tumultuous year resulting in Brexit, a new government and Donald Trump.

I did not envy the editors tasked with rounding up the key news stories at the end of last year. What to include for one of the most tumultuous years in the last three decades?

Locally we have seen the acceleration of devolution and the growth of Sheffield City Region. Nationally we have seen Brexit and a new government installed. The election of Donald Trump, who becomes the 45th President this month, has already had a profound effect on politics and economic projections.

What does this mean for local businesses and for Sheffield? It means the world grows more complicated. To create the jobs, attract the investment and generate the wealth that will fund public services will take skill, confidence and imagination.

2016 saw some notable successes. As more cranes appeared on our skyline; residential, commercial and retail developments contributed to the increasing strength and vitality of Sheffield. The government’s decision to bring HS2 to the city centre will turbo charge regeneration in the years to come. The growth of the Advanced Manufacturing Park and the Olympic Legacy Park show we can deliver world-class innovation districts that will power our economy for decades to come.

We have every reason for confidence in 2017. The role of the City Region will continue to be important. We must harness the benefits of devolution whilst ensuring these organisations remain linked to local communities. An elected mayor will be important but we will also have to show every day how the City Region structures are having a positive impact on people’s lives. Building capacity is not the same as building legitimacy.

A mismanaged Brexit will harm our economy but new found freedoms can present new opportunities. Our challenge is to ensure Sheffield presents a compelling offer to investors and businesses. Whilst renowned for digital innovation, advanced manufacturing and sporting prowess, we need to think more deeply about what Sheffield has to offer to the global economy.

In November, the city will host the renowned Horasis conference, attracting hundreds of investors and business leaders from Europe and Asia. This is our opportunity to shine; to offer guests a warm welcome and to tell the world why Sheffield is a compelling place to do business.

We all have a role to play throughout 2017, showing the world that Sheffield is open for business.

Iconic elephant won’t be saying goodbye to the city centre…

One of the most iconic members of the Herd will be making a welcome return to Sheffield after its new owners pledged to display it in the city centre.

The AM elephant, which was sponsored and signed by Sheffield legends the Arctic Monkeys, was bought at auction last week by Counter Context and sister company, Quality Context. The local companies have committed to returning AM to the city centre in the hope it will attract visitors to Sheffield and raise awareness of The Children’s Hospital Charity.

Originally based outside Sheffield Town Hall, AM was one of the most popular sculptures on the trail, which was organised by the charity and Wild in Art. The 6ft sculpture is now destined for a new home in the Winter Gardens, where local people and tourists alike can visit it for many years to come.

As committed supporters of The Children’s Hospital Charity, Counter Context and Quality Context also sponsored two of the Herd’s elephants along with one of the £25,000 rooms in the hospital’s new wing, due to be opened soon. Alexis and Kate Krachai, owners of the two companies respectively, set their sights on AM after first seeing it at a preview event. Kate explained,

“We loved AM from day one. It represents two of the city’s most important cultural assets; the Arctic Monkeys and the fantastic legacy of the Herd. As local companies, we want to celebrate everything that makes our city great and this elephant does just that.”

Alexis added, “Kate and I felt strongly that it wouldn’t be right to keep AM tucked away. The city loved this elephant and the city deserves to see and enjoy it. We want to give visitors an opportunity to make a donation when taking photos with the elephant, raising vital funds for this important charity. We are also thinking about the local visitor economy – we very much hope that people will continue visiting Sheffield to see AM.”

Rebecca Staden, Fundraising Manager at The Children’s Hospital Charity said: “The Herd of Sheffield was a huge collaboration of companies, artists, schools and individuals from across Sheffield, all working together to create something special for the city and to fund lifesaving equipment at Sheffield Children’s Hospital. I am absolutely delighted that AM is returning to the city as a legacy to the project. Huge thanks go to Counter Context and Quality Context for their generosity and for publicly exhibiting the elephant for the whole city to continue to enjoy.”

Counter Context and Quality Context are working closely with Sheffield City Council and The Children’s Hospital Charity to arrange the move and it is hoped that AM will be on display in the Winter Gardens within the next month.