Ecclesall Road is one of the most dangerous in the UK. Why have we delayed a plan to make it safer?
Plus, Sheffield goes snooker loopy
Good afternoon readers — and welcome to our Monday briefing.
The news that Ecclesall Road has been named as one of the most dangerous in the country took many by surprise last week, but maybe it shouldn’t have. In 2021, eight serious road traffic accidents took place on the busy shopping street, including tragically one fatality. A plan to make the road safer for pedestrians and cyclists that was consulted on last year was shelved by Sheffield Labour last month after councillors got cold feet. Today we ask if the road is so dangerous, why plans to make it safer seem to have been abandoned.
As well as that we have a unique townhouse in Upperthorpe, more love in the pages of the national press for our city, and a band who have been compared to The Kinks and The Velvet Underground come to Sheffield.
Catch up and coming up
We’re sorry we weren't able to bring you a weekend read as usual on Saturday for reasons we explained yesterday. We’ll bring you that story as soon as we can.
Last week we sent out two great newsletters to our 1,308 paying members. One was a fascinating piece by data writer Daniel Timms about how the pandemic has affected the price of terraced houses in Sheffield. And we also published a great story by Yasmin Wakefield about the tough times facing the hospitality industry in Sheffield. An extract from that piece is below.
Cheryl McCanaan, 56, was just one of Bill’s many regulars. She tells me Sheffield is a “sadder place” for the loss of the Blue Moon Cafe. She’s been a customer there since the beginning, when vegetarian food was still something of a rarity in Sheffield. Cheryl and her husband even asked Bill to cater for their wedding day, and say there was no one else they considered for the job. “We will miss the homity pie and the chocolate cake the most,” she tells me. “We wish he’d bring out a cookbook — no one else cooks like Bill does.”
This week we’ll send out two more including one by our regular contributor David Bocking about the wildlife group dedicated to saving toads at Redmires reservoir, and another about whether Weston Park Museum needs a complete overhaul. 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’re now over a third the way through the year, and it’s been an excellent one for The Tribune so far. Over the weekend we passed another milestone on our journey towards sustainability: 1,300 paying members. Every new member gets us closer to our long term goal of 1,500, when we’ll be able to plan for the future with real confidence. If you believe in our mission and want to see The Tribune grow and thrive, please help us get there by joining today.
The big picture: Time to reflect 🌊
We love this picture of an old factory on the Sheffield and Tinsley Canal taken by Instagram user Sir Stewart Wallace. Along with the River Don, the canal forms one half of The Blue Loop, a continuous eight mile stretch of waterway between Lady’s Bridge in Sheffield city centre and Meadowhall. In fine weather some of the reflections on the canal half of the loop can be absolutely stunning.
This week’s weather 🌦
Our weather forecast comes from dedicated Sheffield weather service Steel City Skies, who say high pressure sets up to the NE of the UK, bringing settled weather to start. Breezier, cooler and potentially less settled after midweek.
Monday 🌥 Cloud from Sunday lasting through parts of Monday, with some brighter spells coming through at times. Mild with highs of 15°C.
Tuesday 🌤 Breezier from the east but sunnier than previous days. Barring a very isolated shower, we'll stay dry and settled throughout with highs of 14°C.
Wednesday ⛅ The keen winds from the east will continue to nag, but otherwise we're set fair with further spells of sunshine. Highs of around 12°C, though feeling cooler.
Thursday 🌥 The first uncertain day, with a low to the southeast threatening later. Mainly dry and fair, but a risk of late rain. Highs of 12°C and staying windy.
Friday 🌦 Likely to be less settled with cloud bringing the threat of rain or showers. Bright or sunny periods still possible. Highs of 13°C.
Outlook: Low confidence heading into the weekend, but the form horse is for rather cool and changeable weather to dominate. Keep up to date!
The big story: Ecclesall Road is one of the most dangerous in the UK. Why have we delayed a plan to make it safer?
Top line: The government has given Sheffield City Council more than a million pounds to improve safety on Ecclesall Road after naming it as one of the 50 most dangerous roads in the country. So why did Sheffield Labour decide to delay a plan to make the road safer for pedestrians and cyclists?
Where is the money coming from? The government announced last week that Sheffield is to receive £1.4m under the Department of Transport’s Safer Roads Fund scheme. The fund was established to treat the 50 highest-risk local A-road sections in England with road safety engineering interventions. So far, £100 million has been committed across 48 schemes.
According to a Freedom of Information request lodged by journalism students at the University of Sheffield, 18 serious accidents took place on Ecclesall Road in the last 3 years for which figures are available (2019-2021).
Eight serious crashes happened on the road in 2021 alone injuring one pedestrian, two cyclists, one vehicle passenger, two motorbike riders, and two drivers. Tragically, one incident also led to the death of a 19-year-old man.
Different data: Transport committee co-chair Councillor Mazher Iqbal was quoted by the Local Democracy Reporting Service as saying he was “shocked” by the announcement, and that the government must have been collecting data that wasn’t available to the council. However, Councillor Iqbal added that it was “good news” the authority had now been given the resources to tackle the problem.
Seeing red: This isn’t the first time a plan to improve safety on Ecclesall Road has been suggested. A plan to improve both Ecclesall and Abbeydale roads for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users was consulted on last year.
As well as alterations to bus lane hours, the plans could have created red lines on parts of Ecclesall Road. These automatically issue fines to illegally parked cars, making the road safer for pedestrians and cyclists.
However, the proposals now appear unlikely to happen after Sheffield Labour withdrew their support for them last month. The Lib Dems also oppose them and now only the Greens support keeping them on the table for consideration by the committee.
Business concerns: One thing that would have undoubtedly been weighing on Labour councillors’ minds was the backlash the proposal received among many businesses in the area. “Save Eccy Road” posters were displayed in shops all along the busy shopping street and a petition to scrap the plans attracted more than 13,000 signatures.
However, there is strong evidence to show that the vast majority of people who visit local shops don’t actually travel to them by car. Why so many shopkeepers would want to prioritise the minority of their customers who drive over the majority who don’t remains something of a mystery.
Our take: In order to achieve net zero, we desperately need to rethink the way we travel around the city. But this unexpected windfall from the government shows change is needed for other reasons too. The shopkeepers who called for the proposals to be shelved clearly believe their businesses rely on drivers to survive. But this intervention from the government suggests that far from keeping Ecclesall Road going, cars might actually be the thing that is holding it back.
Home of the week 🏡
This unique three-bedroom Upperthorpe townhouse is spread across three floors, has been extensively renovated internally, and — best of all — has a garden hot tub. It is on the market for £385,000.
Tribune Tips: If you want to tell us about a story or give us some information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We are always happy to speak to people off the record in the first instance, and we will treat your information with confidence and sensitivity. Get in touch.
Meet me at the museum? This week I’m looking into a piece about Weston Park Museum. If you have strong opinions about Sheffield’s most prestigious museum, please let me know. I’ll be going down at 10am on Tuesday morning for a look around. If you want to meet me for a coffee, get in touch.
Our media picks 🎧
The remarkable renaissance of Sheffield 🌆 There was yet more love for Sheffield in the national press on Saturday. This time it was The Telegraph who sent travel reporter Paul Miles to the Steel City to run the rule over the city’s attractions. While here, he goes on a tour of Park Hill flats before walking to Kelham Island to visit its industrial museum, Cutlery Works and Bullion chocolate. Time will tell whether all this love brings us any more tourists!
Life in Sheffield's poorest neighbourhood 👛 It’s good to see the Reach-owned website Yorkshire Live is doing more community reporting these days. If you can put up with the intrusive adverts, this piece about Darnall is quite a good read. Figures show that the eastern suburb has the lowest average wage per household in the city, but despite its struggles, reporter Gregory Ford finds a highly resilient community determined to weather the storm.
Looking back at Sheffield City Airport ✈️ If you, like me, have always been fascinated by the idea Sheffield once had its very own airport, this retro photo gallery in The Star is worth a look. Sheffield City Airport opened to great fanfare in 1997 and was initially a huge success. However, it became a victim of the boom in low-cost air travel and closed in 2008. The site, which was located just off the Parkway, was sold for just £1 and is now used by the AMRC.
Snooker loopy 🎱
The annual World Snooker Championships is the highlight of Sheffield’s sporting calendar, when 32 of the world’s best players battle it out in the iconic Crucible Theatre in more than two weeks of intense matchplay. As well as all the action inside the Crucible, matches are also being shown on a large screen in Tudor Square, and the BBC are broadcasting live from the Winter Garden. Tickets are still available for sessions throughout the next two weeks. For our piece from two years ago on the championship’s return to Sheffield after Covid, click here.
Things to do 📆
Talk 🗣️ The Festival of Debate continues this week with another nine online and in-person talks. The annual event is now the UK’s biggest non-partisan political festival and this week features talks on land ownership on Monday (online), tackling inequity in access to nature at the Quaker Meeting House and rebuilding democracy at the Central United Reform Church on Tuesday, and migrant women’s voices at Union St on Wednesday. All talks are free to attend.
Theatre 🎭 Starting on Tuesday, 18 April at the Lyceum Theatre is Home, I’m Darling, Laura Wade’s hit comedy about one woman’s quest to be the perfect 1950s housewife. The show premiered in Wales in 2018, before transferring to the National Theatre and then to a run at the Duke of York’s Theatre in the West End. It won the Olivier Award for Best New Comedy in 2019. Tickets are priced from £15 to £45 and the play will run until Saturday, 22 April.
Music 🎸 DIY music venue Delicious Clam returns on Tuesday (18 April) with a gig by BBC 6 Music favourites Holiday Ghosts, who Our Favourite Places say make music in the “lean, primitive, and infectious spirit of rock and roll greats like The Modern Lovers, The Kinks, and The Velvet Underground.” Tickets are £10 and the doors open at 8pm. Also this week, Gaz Coombes of Supergrass is playing a solo gig at The Leadmill on 19 April. Tickets are £25.