Four months after the 'gas flood', has Yorkshire Water abandoned the people of Stannington?
Plus, a cyclist ‘die in’ at Ringinglow
Good afternoon readers — and welcome to our Monday briefing.
The “gas flood” in Stannington caused national news headlines in December. Thousands of residents were left without heating in freezing temperatures after a water main failed and flooded the system. While most people’s heating was back on within two weeks, four months later many people are still dealing with the consequences. Assessing the damage caused by the water and getting it repaired has been a slow process. But it has also been an expensive one as well, and now Yorkshire Water seems to be quibbling about the cost of the work. Today we have the latest on a problem that could be an issue for residents for some time to come.
As well as that we have a beautiful Art Deco home in Norton, a moving photo from a cycling protest on Saturday, and the women’s course record tumbles at the Sheffield Half Marathon.
Catch up and coming up
For our spiritual weekend read I went to High Hazels Park in Darnall to witness a moon sighting, the traditional beginning of Ramadan for the planet’s 1.9 billion Muslims. You can still read that piece here.
Last week we sent out just one great newsletter to our 1,274 paying members (this was an oversight on my part which we will make up to you as soon as possible). The piece focused on accusations that an organisation called Just Build Homes which is linked to a former adviser to Boris Johnson has been trying to game the planning system in Sheffield. An extract is below:
Just Build Homes is part of an organisation called Shared Voice Ltd, a public relations and communications firm set up by, among others, Alex Crowley, a former political adviser who worked with Boris Johnson during his time as Mayor of London from 2008. He was later a senior adviser to Johnson’s campaign to lead the Conservatives in 2019 before becoming an adviser to the Prime Minister later the same year. In 2019, he was criticised for setting up two supposedly grassroots Facebook campaigns which broke the social network’s funding disclosure rules, one to push for a no-deal Brexit and the other criticising Labour’s tax plans.
This week we’ll send out two more including a fascinating piece about the recent proliferation of foodhalls in Sheffield and what it tells us about the way we eat. 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: We’re almost at the end of March now and we reached our target of 1,250 with a few weeks to spare. The next big milestone we want to get to is 1,500 — hopefully sometime this summer. If we get there we’ll be able to do bigger investigations and commission more freelancers. Please help us by joining today.
The big picture: To die for 🚲
Dozens of cyclists staged a “die-in” on Saturday in protest at the dangerous conditions encountered by many of them while travelling around the city. The protest took place at the junction of Ringinglow Road and Common Lane, where 58-year-old Adrian Lane was killed in a collision last year. One of those “dying” was Sheffield doctor Ollie Hart, who wrote on Twitter that safe cycling was “key to a compassionate city”. To support the Adrian Lane Campaign, click here.
This week’s weather 🌦
Our weather forecast comes from dedicated Sheffield weather service Steel City Skies, who say high pressure briefly clears the air, but low pressure returns with a vengeance by midweek.
Monday 🌤️ A frosty start, then dry with plenty of sunshine. Light northerly winds with temperatures chilly in the shade with highs of 8°C.
Tuesday ☔ Cloud increases from the west and winds freshen from the south with an increasing risk of rain later. Still cool with highs of 9°C.
Wednesday 🌦️ Much milder but staying unsettled with showers or longer spells of rain in between brief brighter interludes. Windy with highs of 13°C.
Thursday 🌦️ Low pressure systems in full control with keen southwest winds driving in showers in between brighter periods. Highs of 14°C.
Friday 🌦️ Another mixed one, though pleasant in the drier and brighter periods. Further showers are likely though, and still windy with highs of 13°C.
Outlook: Showers still with us to start next weekend, but perhaps more settled by Sunday should high pressure ridge in from the south.
Four months after the ‘gas flood’, has Yorkshire Water abandoned the people of Stannington?
Top line: Yorkshire Water have been accused of shirking their responsibilities to the residents of Stannington after last year’s devastating “gas flood”.
Recap: In December, a water main under Bankfield Lane in Stannington failed, tearing a hole through a nearby gas pipe and causing thousands of litres of water to flood into the area’s gas network. As well as cutting off gas supply to thousands of houses, the water burst gas meters and came out of household appliances, causing water damage to people’s homes.
What’s happened since? In the aftermath of the flood, Yorkshire Water and gas distribution company Cadent appointed a specialist firm of gas engineers called Aspect to assess the damage caused to people’s boilers, fires and cookers and then make recommendations.
However, Aspect’s presence in the area ended several weeks ago and its contract will be terminated on 15 April with that work still not complete.
Residents have been contacted by a “loss adjuster” who told them to hire a gas engineer for £85 which will be refunded by Yorkshire Water at a later date.
Changing the rules: The anger in the area over the unexplained rule change can be seen on the local Facebook group. One resident, who asked not to be named, said his boiler was damaged in the flood and is still not working properly. He told The Tribune it feels like Yorkshire Water is trying to save money by making it more difficult for people to get their appliances repaired. He said:
We have still got a problem with our hot water going on and off but they are making it more complicated for people to sort the issues out. Someone needs to ask Yorkshire Water why they’ve changed the rules. I can’t see how it’s about anything else other than saving money.
Political pressure: Sheffield Hallam MP Olivia Blake and two of the area’s councillors, Penny Baker and Vickie Priestley, attended a public meeting with Yorkshire Water and Cadent on 17 March.
At the public meeting, residents were told that anybody whose appliances were assessed before a cut off date of Wednesday, 1 March would get it repaired under the original system.
However, those who hadn’t had a visit from Aspect by then will have to arrange their own assessment and have the claim dealt with by loss adjusters chosen by Yorkshire Water and Cadent.
A spokesperson for Yorkshire Water told The Tribune:
We understand how difficult it has been for customers in Stannington, Hillsborough and Malin Bridge that were impacted by the incident in early December. We are working with our partner, [loss adjuster] Charles Taylor, to support customers and process claims as quickly as possible. We’re here to support our customers and will work with them to address appliance issues where we can.
Our take: It’s easy to see why Yorkshire Water might want to limit their losses — the cost of the gas flood must have already run into the hundreds of thousands of pounds, possibly millions. However, ultimately it’s difficult to see who else other than them should be asked to pay for the repairs. The entirely blameless residents of Stannington shouldn’t be expected to jump through hoops to sort out a problem which is of someone else’s making.
Home of the week 🏡
This fabulous four-bedroom 1930s Art Deco semi in Norton has a roof terrace with far reaching views and a separate one-bedroom annexe. It is on the market for £550,000.
Tribune Tips: If you want to tell us about a story or give us some information, please email email@example.com. 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.
Our media picks 🎧
Kelham Island is one of the best places to live in 2023 🏡 Fresh from being named one of the coolest neighbourhoods in the UK by Time Out, now The Sunday Times says Kelham Island one of the best places to live in the country. As indie businesses have moved into the area’s historic steelworks, workshops and warehouses, the paper says Kelham Island has become a “magnetic field of reimagined industrial-chic” which “blazes with hip hangouts”.
One big thank you 📺 Helen Eadon at The Link Community Centre in Stradbroke (who we wrote about last year) has been nominated for a One Big Thank You award by the BBC’s The One Show. Actress Denise Welch presented a lovely segment about them on Thursday night’s show (fast forward to 15 minutes 50 seconds). It’s really great to see someone we’ve written about getting the recognition they truly deserve. Well done to everyone at The Link.
A perfect snowstorm 🌨️ A really interesting story in our regular contributor David Bocking’s newsletter about the damage caused to Sheffield’s trees by the recent heavy snow. It is estimated there could have been up to 1,000 tree failures across the city as a result of the snowstorm, which the council are currently trying to locate and deal with. Another good piece in the same newsletter looks at the current debate surrounding expensive electric cargo bikes.
Running up that hill 🏃🏾♀️
Well done to the thousands of runners who took part in the Sheffield Half Marathon on Sunday. The men’s race was won by Tommy Power from the Hallamshire Harriers running club in a time of 1:08:00. The first woman over the finishing line was Phillipa Williams in a new course record of 1:14:50 (breaking her own record from 2019). It’s been a few years since I’ve taken part in it now but I can still remember how hard the ascent from Endcliffe Park to the Norfolk Arms at Ringinglow is, so congratulations to everyone who got round.
Things to do 📆
Music 🎸 Presented by the Heretics Folk Club, the Abbeydale Picture House will be hosting an night of what they call “transatlantic psychedelic country and ambient americana” on Monday, 27 March. The evening’s line-up includes Sheffield’s very own “cosmic-country pioneer” Bobby Lee, American Jeffrey Silverstein’s groove-laden psychedelia and pedal steel guitarist Joe Harvey-Whyte from London. Tickets are £10 and doors open at 7.30pm.
Talk 🎓 The monthly PubHD event takes place on Wednesday, 29 March at the Old Queen’s Head on Pond Street. PubHD offers students in Sheffield an opportunity to try their hands at public engagement by explaining their PhDs in 10-15 minutes and facing questions from a varied and diverse audience. This month’s PhDs include the role of artificial intelligence in 3D printing and another mystery topic. Admission is free but donations are appreciated.
Film ✊ In 1983, Sheffield City Council organised its first Karl Marx Memorial Lecture to remember the life and works of the socialist political philosopher on the 100th anniversary of his death. 40 years on, that very first lecture, which was delivered by the legendary cultural theorist and political activist Professor Stuart Hall, will be screened at the Union Street co-working space in Sheffield city centre on Thursday, 30 March at 6pm. Admission is free.