Can we create a ‘new Canary Wharf’ in South Yorkshire? Do we want to?
Plus, pictures from the Sharrow lantern carnival
Good afternoon readers — and welcome to our Monday briefing.
Whatever you do, don’t anger the RSPB. When Kwasi Kwarteng announced 38 low-tax, low regulation “investment zones” in last year’s disastrous mini-budget, ornithologists across the UK vowed to fight the policy. Liz Truss’s government fell just 27 days later. Fast forward six months and the investment zone policy has been completely rethought by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, who says the smaller group of a dozen zones he has identified has the potential to create “12 new Canary Wharfs” outside the capital. Everybody accepts the pressing need to rebalance our economy away from South East England. But can what is still a smallish collection of high-tech businesses on the border between Sheffield and Rotherham really become an economic centre to rival the glistening towers of London’s financial centre?
As well as that we have a beautiful flat in Fulwood, an appearance for Sheffield on the BBC’s Gardeners’ World programme, and details of a new exhibition all about nature at Site Gallery.
Catch up and coming up
I hope my unforgivable error about the location of the city of Lancaster didn’t spoil your enjoyment of our weekend story about Sheffield’s DIY music scene too much! You can still read that piece here.
Last week we sent out two great newsletters to our growing band of 1,266 paying members. The first included a photo piece in which I looked at 12 of the lesser known examples of 20th century architecture in Sheffield with the Modernist Society’s Sean Madner. And for the second, I ventured out onto Sheffield’s roads with regular Tribune contributor David Bocking to find out if bikes and cars can ever get along. An extract from the second piece is below.
The idea of training cyclists is controversial, however. Among some in Sheffield’s well-established and vocal cycling community, anything that places responsibility on them rather than drivers and policy makers is missing the point. For them, cyclists are the ones who are killed and seriously injured by irresponsible drivers on our roads every day. Either drivers need to realise they are the ones causing the problem or else councils need to create separated cycling infrastructure to keep them safe. Why should they be the ones to undertake extra training?
This week we’ll send out two more including one about how visionary town planner Patrick Abercrombie saw Sheffield developing more than 100 years ago. To help fund a new way of doing journalism in Sheffield based on subscriptions rather than clicks, please consider subscribing using the button below. It costs £1.34 a week if you pay for 12 months up front.
Editor’s note: Our sister title The Mill has today reached an important milestone. Less than three years after they sent out their first newsletter, they have just reached 2,000 paying members. The Tribune is still a long way off that level, but in time we will get there. The success of our model in Sheffield, Manchester and Liverpool shows people really value what we offer. If you want to help us grow and thrive (and catch up with Manchester) join as a member today.
The big picture: Spring has sprung 🐝
Last Monday Sheffield was still covered in snow — but this week it feels like spring. Many thanks to amateur photographer Andy Moore for letting us use this brilliant photo of a bee buzzing around some spring crocuses at Sheffield’s beautiful Botanical Gardens on Sunday.
This week’s weather 🌦
Our weather forecast comes from dedicated Sheffield weather service Steel City Skies, who say it will be a typical, changeable spring week with low pressure driving in a healthy mix of sunshine and blustery showers.
Monday ☁ The odd bout of light rain, and the odd spell of sunshine amidst predominantly cloudy skies. Mild and breezy with highs of 14°C.
Tuesday 🌦 After an overnight cold front passes through, Tuesday looks windy and unsettled with sunshine and blustery showers. Highs of 13°C.
Wednesday ⛅ Could well be the best day after overnight wind and rain clears east. We're in between fronts then - albeit very gusty -, with sunny spells and highs of 13°C.
Thursday 🌦 Still breezy with showers returning to add colour to the day. Pleasant in brighter spells, but staying changeable with highs of 12°C.
Friday 🌦 Rinse and repeat for the end of the week with further squally showers blowing through on the keen southwesterly breeze. Highs of 12°C.
Outlook: Staying changeable, and perhaps a little cooler, into the weekend with further spells of rain in between brighter periods.
The big story: Can we create a ‘new Canary Wharf’ in South Yorkshire? Do we want to?
Top line: Investment zones are back, but there have been big changes since they were last proposed by Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng. Current Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said the refocused policy has the potential to create “12 new Canary Wharfs”, a reference to the Docklands area of East London that over the last 40 years has been redeveloped into a global financial centre.
Background: Last year, during the short-lived premiership of Liz Truss, the government proposed the creation of 38 investment zones to drive business investment and growth. The zones were dubbed “full fat freeports” in reference to the areas around air and sea ports where different economic regulations apply championed by previous Chancellor Rishi Sunak.
What’s changed? However, the plans unveiled by current Chancellor Jeremy Hunt in last week’s budget look very different. Firstly, they have been scaled back in number, from 38 to 12, one of which will be in South Yorkshire. The package of support offered to the zones has been rethought as well, giving local areas more say in the way the money will be spent.
The zones will each receive £80m of “flexible” support which they can split between skills and infrastructure spending and tax incentives in whichever way they choose. Examples of tax incentives could include stamp duty relief and business rates relief.
However, while previous proposals hinted that planning and environmental standards could be bypassed, the government now says the zones must “operate within current regulatory frameworks and be expected to maintain high environmental standards”.
Picking winners: There has been criticism from some quarters that rather than creating new economic activity, investment zones merely move around what is already there. This can sometimes mean businesses relocate because they are given incentives to move to an investment zone, leading to depressed economic activity in areas outside the new zones.
A ‘marked improvement’: Reaction has been largely positive. Henri Murison, the director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said the zones were a “marked improvement” on the previous policy while South Yorkshire Mayor Oliver Coppard said it would allow us to build on our existing strengths in advanced manufacturing, health sciences and green technology.
However, Zoë Billingham, the director of the think tank IPPR North, struck a note of caution. She argued that while the new investment zones were an improvement on Truss and Kwarteng’s vision, she still had concerns about inequality and infrastructure: She added:
Canary Wharf is a strange model for the chancellor to point to because Tower Hamlets, where Canary Wharf is based, has the highest rate of child poverty in the UK. We need a better model than that. What’s more, it was supported by major transport and infrastructure investment — something denied to the North.
Bottom line: The investment zone policy hasn’t exactly been a textbook example of good government (it was recently revealed that councils and combined authorities spent £12.5m bidding when they were announced last year, only to have the policy completely rethought). However, in scaling back the programme, the government does seem to have taken on board concerns about the previous policy. And while £80m is a fairly modest amount of money in the grand scheme of things, no local leader is ever going to turn down that investment.
Home of the week 🏡
This two bedroom Fulwood flat has a large outdoor terrace with views across the Mayfield valley. Best of all, there’s a Chinese takeaway downstairs. It is on the market for £190,000.
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Our media picks 📺
Gardeners’ World 🪴 Spring is in the air and in this week’s first episode of the new season of the BBC’s Gardeners’ World TV programme, the team was in Sheffield. They were visiting skateboarder Danni Gallacher, who has created a haven for both wildlife and herself in her wild “forest garden” at her Gleadless allotment. And if you weren’t already envious enough, it even has a wood-fired bath. Fast forward to 18 minutes 30 seconds for the Sheffield section.
Agency in the workplace 💊 An interesting piece in Now Then about an employee owned pharmacy which has been serving a deprived Sheffield community for more than 70 years. The Wicker Pharmacy has been operating since 1952 but since 2012 has been part owned by its own employees. Sam Walby interviews managing director Ellie Bennett, who has worked there for the last 35 years, about how working for an ethical organisation is different.
How legendary boxing trainer’s teachings helped Sheffield schoolgirl 🥊An inspiring story by Bob Westerdale in The Star about a Firth Park student who has seen her life turned around by boxing. Olivia Dunleavey was 13 when she was excluded from school due to bad behaviour. However, since her name was suggested to former professional boxer Atif Shafiq, who trained under the legendary Brendan Ingle, her life has been completely transformed.
Lighting up the night 🏮
The streets of Sharrow were turned into a dazzling light show last night for the area’s annual lantern carnival. The carnival has run every year since 2004 and usually attracts about 2,000 people, hundreds of whom bring hand-made lanterns with them. Snapper Tim Dennell said the above bear was his favourite. “It even wiggles its ears,” he added. More photos can be found on his Facebook page.
Things to do 📆
Art 🖼️ A brand new exhibition at Site Gallery looks at the environment, ecosystems and the relationships between humans and nonhuman species at both the macro and micro scale. Interspecies Entanglements brings together artists and artworks that highlight humanity’s interdependence with nonhuman species and explores the idea of making work in the shadow of climate change and political upheaval. The free show lasts until Sunday, 28 May.
Talk 🗣️ The mysteries of Ancient Egypt conjure up ideas of gold, art, sex and death — but why are we so enraptured by certain aspects of its culture? On Tuesday, 21 March, the Manchester Museum’s Dr Campbell Price will present a lunchtime talk at Weston Park Museum about the newly-reopened museum’s latest exhibition, Golden Mummies of Egypt, and the book that accompanies it. The free talk will begin at 1pm and lasts for 45 minutes.
Dance 🩰 The 1920s roar back to life at the Lyceum Theatre this week for the return of The Great Gatsby, Northern Ballet’s acclaimed production of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s great American novel. Jay Gatsby’s Long Island mansion buzzes day and night with the young, rich and beautiful. However, as the champagne flows, romance gives way to jealousy and tragedy. The show begins on Tuesday, 21 March and runs until Saturday. Tickets are priced £11-£55.