Sheffield business leaders seek talks over cuts

Image caption,
The chamber says Sheffield needs to revive its manufacturing base

Business leaders in Sheffield are seeking urgent talks with the coalition government after the decision to cut funding for three projects in the city.

On Thursday, an £80m loan to engineering firm Sheffield Forgemasters and a £13m redevelopment of the former Outokumpu steelworks site were ditched.

Some £12m of funding for the Sevenstone retail development was also suspended.

Sheffield Chamber of Commerce said it had requested talks with ministers over what it described as Black Thursday.

The chamber, which represents over 2,500 organisations across the city, said it wanted "to ensure that at this critical time Sheffield's voice is being heard".

Chief executive Nigel Tomlinson said: "I am reeling. This is clearly worrying news for Sheffield, especially the manufacturing and retail sectors.

"I have never known three announcements like that in the space of an hour in the last 10 years.

"One of my members called it Black Thursday.

"We are requesting urgent discussions with the government and shall be liaising with local MPs to fully discover the extent of these cuts."

He said that Sheffield's economy, like the rest of the UK, needed a foundation in a strong, export-led manufacturing base, as well as developing creative and new economy companies.

"The most frustrating part of these cuts is that they fly against this important long-term objective," said Mr Tomlinson.

"The city and its businesses are resilient and will come through this difficult time. We just need to identify new opportunities."

"Sheffield Forgemasters has become a hugely profitable company, with a strong international reputation for expertise. Whilst this news is a disappointment to them, I am sure they will refocus and continue to play a key role in driving forward the city's economy."

On Thursday, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander announced that the government had cancelled 12 projects, totalling £2bn, which had been agreed by the previous Labour administration since the start of 2010.

He told MPs the cuts were necessary to help tackle the nation's budget deficit.

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