After losing three leaders in just over two years — who will be next for Sheffield Labour?
Plus, Eurovision comes to Devonshire Green
Good afternoon readers — and welcome to our Monday briefing.
If the local election results in Sheffield proved one thing it was that the long shadow of the tree protests continues to colour the city’s politics. Given the results elsewhere, Labour should be winning in Sheffield easily, but the party’s vote in the city is still depressed. Since the national party moved to replace former leader Terry Fox just over a week ago, interviews for the job have been taking place and a final decision will be taken by Labour councillors today. Who is it going to be and can they get Labour back to winning ways?
As well as that we have a beautiful home in Highfield, some more love for Sheffield in the national press, and a gorgeous photo book about a long lost city building.
Catch up and coming up
“The best piece of journalism I have read in years” was how one reader described David Bocking’s fabulous weekend read about the return of spring to the Peak District. You can still read that piece here.
Last week we sent out two great newsletters to our 1,411 members. The first was a piece by me about Sir George Buckley's journey from Pitsmoor slum to star CEO. And the second was a brilliant piece by Jack Chadwick about the extraordinary life of miner, author and journalist Len Doherty, the man who wrote the best novel you’ve never heard of. An extract from that second piece is below.
While the physical injuries made any kind of mental recovery a tall order, it was his troubled early life that had made a return to normalcy impossible for the man. He was a brilliant but difficult bloke, with a personality marked more by early hardship than later success. His colleagues at The Star were in awe of him, “sensitive, proud and talented ... in turns brilliant and then incredibly melancholy,” remembers one former reporter; “a manic depressive” who “sought salvation” in the pubs around the Star’s old Telegraph House offices.
This week we’ll send out two more including one about Sheffield’s up and coming street art scene, and another about who is going to run Sheffield City Council. To help fund a new way of doing journalism in Sheffield based on subscriptions rather than clickbait, please subscribe using the button below. It costs £1.34 a week if you pay for 12 months up front (23p a day).
Editor’s note: We’ve done a lot of good stories over the last two years, but I think last week we topped it all. In my view, Jack Chadwick’s luminous piece about Len Doherty is the best thing The Tribune has ever put out. The only reason it’s possible for us to do stories that good is because we have the support of more than 1,400 other Sheffielders. If you want to join them and help support the future of high quality journalism in Sheffield, please become a member today.
The big picture: Party in the park 🎉
Eurovision came to Sheffield on Saturday as Devonshire Green was turned into a fan park to celebrate Liverpool hosting the annual Europe-wide campathon. Entertainment included Ukrainian dancing and choirs before the song contest itself was shown in all its insane glory. In the end, eventual winners Sweden were pushed hard all the way by runners-up Finland. The UK finished second last.
This week’s weather ⛅
Our weather forecast comes from dedicated Sheffield weather service Steel City Skies, who say high pressure provides us with plenty of dry and bright weather with temperatures gradually recovering.
Monday ⛅ A sunny start with cloud building through the day. Showers isolated, but chilly in the NW breeze with highs of 15°C.
Tuesday 🌦 A greater risk of showers, but a good deal of us should stay dry thanks to the sheltering of the hills to the west. Bright otherwise, with highs of 15°C.
Wednesday 🌥 It is expected to be cloudier at times from the west, though we should stay dry throughout the day. A few brighter spells with 16°C the high.
Thursday ☁ Hazy sun is possible, but again predominantly cloudy skies are likely. Patchy light rain from a cold front to the west could threaten late on. Highs of 17°C.
Friday 🌦 Confidence a little lower here, with the UK in between two high pressure cells. Being in between may cook up a few scattered showers, but many staying dry. Highs of 18°C.
Outlook 😎 With high pressure still expected to influence, a good deal of dry, fine and warm(ish) weather is expected into next weekend, and perhaps even into the following week.
The big story: After losing three leaders in just over two years — who will be next for Sheffield Labour?
Top line: When Terry Fox stood down as Labour party leader in the wake of disappointing local elections results, it sparked a rapid fire contest to replace him. That new leader will be chosen during an AGM of the party’s 39 councillors later today. Who is it going to be?
Runners and riders: On BBC Radio Sheffield last week, political reporter Lucy Ashton said she had been told that the contest was likely to be between Walkley councillor Tom Hunt and Park and Arbourthorne councillor Ben Miskell. However, The Tribune has now been told that Miskell has ruled himself out and that a more likely candidate is Southey councillor Jayne Dunn. Both councillors are from the centrist wing of the party, which is currently in the ascendant under the leadership of Keir Starmer.
Tom Hunt: The Walkley councillor has only been on the council for a year, but has some powerful backers. A former staff member for Paul Blomfield, he is thought to be the choice of the Sheffield Central MP for the role, as well as South Yorkshire Mayor Oliver Coppard. He also ran Abtisam Mohamed’s campaign to replace Paul Blomfield and is currently deputy director of the University of Sheffield’s political economy research institute. He looks like the party’s preferred choice, but could struggle to get the support he needs from his fellow Sheffield councillors.
Jayne Dunn: A small business owner who runs her own beauty salon, Dunn is a highly experienced councillor who has served the people of Southey for more than 10 years. However, she was also a high profile member of the cabinet (for education and skills) under the leadership of Julie Dore during the long-running tree dispute. She will probably command more support among her fellow Labour councillors than Tom Hunt. However, if the national party wants a clean break, she could be seen as too associated with the Labour leaderships of the past.
Other candidates: With Ben Miskell making it clear he is not in the running, Labour doesn’t exactly have a lot to choose from. Many of their current crop of councillors either have too little experience or what you might euphemistically call “too much” (meaning they are too associated with the Labour leaderships of the past). Former deputy leader and Burngreave councillor Mark Jones could also be a potential candidate for leader. However, he is widely seen as being too close to former leader Bob Johnson, who lost in Hillsborough in 2021.
A big decision: In the wake of the election results, Lib Dem leader Shaffaq Mohammed called on the Greens to back him as council leader when the council meets this Wednesday. While this would be within the rules, it would still be a big surprise if it were to happen.
Labour are still by far the biggest party on Sheffield City Council in terms of both seats (39 to Lib Dems 29), and votes (49,000 to the Lib Dems 32,000).
While there is certainly no love lost between Labour and the Greens, it would be a huge call for them to be seen as going against the will of the people.
Bottom line: The turmoil in politics in Sheffield seems to be never ending. Since the tree protests shook up the city’s politics we’ve seen multiple Labour leaders deposed, coalitions formed between them and the Greens, and a complete change in the governance system. The Labour party nationally will be hoping whoever leads the party next in Sheffield will be able to draw a line under that chapter and lead the party back to overall control. That’s probably easier said than done.
Home of the week 🏡
This stunning two-bedroom mid-terrace in Highfield has loads of original features and is within easy walking distance of Sheffield city centre. It is on the market for £235,000.
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Get in touch: As their hopes of promotion look to have been dashed for another year, we’re planning a piece about Sheffield Wednesday. If any Wednesdayites can bear to speak to us about the joy and pain (mainly pain) of supporting the Owls, we would love to hear from you.
Our media picks 🎧
BBC Breakfast 📺 An important piece on TV this morning about a Sheffield woman who took her own life after being sexually abused by her running coach. Katie Shone was found dead in January this year decades after the abuse took place in the 90s. Now, ahead of a debate in parliament about the forthcoming Victims’ Bill, her mum is calling on the government to ensure survivors get the support they need (fast forward to 17 minutes). There is also a web piece here.
The best restaurants to eat in Sheffield 🍽️ Sheffield’s up and coming food scene is still getting lots of coverage in the national press. This time it’s the BBC Good Food magazine which has produced an invaluable list of all the best places to eat and drink in the city. The list is pleasingly varied, ranging from fine dining at JÖRO to “idiosyncratic pub grub” at the Rutland Arms. There is also a separate section at the bottom for the best places to drink too.
The route through Sheffield as invigorating as any walk in the country 🥾 A lovely piece in Country Life about the Sheffield Round Walk, the 15-mile circular walking trail around the south west of the city. Beginning and ending at Endcliffe Park, the walk takes in the Porter, Limb, Sheaf and Gleadless valleys and every woodland in between. Writer Fiona Reynolds says the walk is a reminder of the “extraordinary way in which country meets city here”.
Things to do 📆
Theatre 🎭 There’s still a week left to catch the acclaimed production of Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane at the Lyceum Theatre. The show, which has come straight off a sell-out West End run, is produced by the same team that created War Horse and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and is described as a “thrilling adventure of fantasy, myth and friendship”. The play runs until Saturday, 20 May. Tickets are £15-£45.
Talk 🗣️ The Festival of Debate continues this week with a fascinating talk about drug policy at The Leadmill on Tuesday, 16 May. A former government drug tsar, Professor David Nutt now researches the potential medicinal uses of drugs including LSD, MDMA and psilocybin. The talk will look at both the barriers to researching controlled substances and how they could be used to treat mental health conditions. Tickets are £12 and doors open at 7pm.
Film 🍿 The Showroom cinema’s classics season continues this week with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers’ Top Hat. Set in the 1920s in London and Venice, and featuring stylish Art Deco sets, this fun mistaken-identity musical showcases the iconic song-and-dance performances of the two legendary stars to the celebrated music of Irving Berlin. For a slight change of pace, the superb British gangster film Sexy Beast is also on at the Students’ Union on Wednesday.
‘Streets in the Sky’ 🏢
It may come as a surprise to people (like me) who are newcomers to Sheffield, but Park Hill flats once had a sister building: the monumental Hyde Park flats. Built five years after its older sibling, just over 20 years later the huge building was being emptied out and a few years after that there was almost none of it left. In 1988, documentary photographer Bill Stephenson photographed the final residents as they prepared to be rehoused.
Now, for the first time, 43 of Stephenson’s stunning photos have been brought together in a book by independent Sheffield publisher Revelations 23 Press. The book includes a foreword written by award-winning Sheffield-born writer and photographer Johny Pitts, as well as a history of the flats and an account of Stephenson’s work with its residents. I think the piece I wrote about Hyde Park two years ago is among the best things I’ve ever written.