How a Sheffield beauty spot turned into a night-time no-go area
Plus, the government gets in a spin over Boeing
Good afternoon readers — and welcome to our Monday briefing.
We hope you all had a great Christmas and New Year break and are looking forward to 2024. It promises to be a big year for Sheffield with Heart of the City due to be completed and major events like the MOBO Awards coming to the city. But problems like anti-social behaviour still linger, and it’s not just the city centre either. Opened in 2011, the South Street Amphitheatre has been a great addition to the area behind the station. But persistent crime, drug-dealing, drug-taking, littering and anti-social behaviour often turn the beauty spot into a no-go area at night. Can anything be done to help the residents of this part of S2 feel safer?
More praise for The Trib: Our parent company Mill Media has been named one of the 100 most exciting startups in the UK by Startups website. The glowing write-up says in its short three-year history, the firm has already built a presence in three cities — Sheffield, Liverpool and Manchester — attracting a loyal following of over 70,000 email subscribers and 5,000 paying members. “Despite Mill Media Co’s modest team size, the sky appears to be its limit,” the piece continues. “After recently being valued at £1.75 million, the publisher is firmly setting its gaze on expansion — aspiring to be the number one quality local media brand in the UK, with branches in over a dozen cities within the next five years.”
Catch up and coming up
For our weekend read, Victoria travelled to supercool Kelham Island to ask what happens when an up-and-coming neighbourhood finally arrives. You can still read that piece here.
Last week we sent out two great newsletters to our 1,926 paying members. In the first, Victoria visited the now 10-year-old Moor Market to find traders struggling with low footfall and rising service charges. And in the second Dan asked whether a new high-tech factory at the AMRC is really the great deal South Yorkshire's politicians say it is — or whether we, as taxpayers, are shouldering the bulk of the risk? An extract from that first piece is below.
Chatting to traders it seems like the tenth birthday party must have been a somewhat frosty affair. The “people upstairs,” one greengrocer says of the contingent from the council, stood in the middle of the market “taking pictures and looking important,” while everyone else got on with business. “There’s not one person upstairs I have got respect for,” he says. Traders cite a litany of complaints that stretch between the building’s first and tenth years like a string of thumb-worn rosary beads. One trader I approach tells me it’s pointless for me to interview her after speaking to a handful of other people. “I’m sure we’re all saying the same thing.”
Next week we’ll send out two more including one about attempts to preserve the industrial heritage of the Rivelin Valley in the age of the climate crisis. To help fund a new way of doing journalism based on subscriptions rather than clickbait, please subscribe using the button below. It costs just £1.34 a week or 23p a day if you pay for 12 months up front (£70).
Editor’s note: In November and December, The Tribune added an astonishing 350 new paying members, including 85 gift subscriptions. We’re now less than 100 members short of 2,000, a figure that seemed unimaginable when we started this two and a half years ago. Thanks to you, we are now in with a chance of creating something wonderful — a sustainable form of journalism that can serve this city for decades to come. If you want to help us get there, please join today.
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The big picture: On the edge 🏙️
We really love this photo of Sheffield from Nether Edge by Steven James Brown (oursteven on Instagram). From his vantage point near Brincliffe Edge Woods, you can make out Sheffield Town Hall, St Marie’s Cathedral, the Cheesegrater car park, St Paul’s Tower and even the top of the Bernard Road incinerator.
This week’s weather 🌦
Our weather forecast comes from dedicated Sheffield weather service Steel City Skies, who say high pressure rules to the north, bringing plenty of cloud, especially after midweek, but a lot of drier if cooler weather, too.
Monday 🌥 Cloud tending to break as we head towards the afternoon, with a cold ENE breeze. Dry, with highs of just 3°C with a frost likely overnight.
Tuesday 🌥 Similarly cold, with variable cloud and some bright or sunny spells. Again dry, with a light frost risk overnight unless cloud increases sooner. Highs of 4°C.
Wednesday ☁ Thicker cloud expected from the east midweek, the odd pocket of drizzle possible with the frost risk diminishing as temperatures rise subtly. Highs of 6°C.
Thursday ☁ Likely to be dull again with a few drizzly spells possible. Cloud struggling to break, with highs closer to average at about 6°C.
Friday ☁ Potential for the odd break in the cloud, but amounts expected to be high again. No real deviation in temperatures either, with highs again around 6°C.
Outlook: Our high is expected to retrogress north and west towards Greenland through the weekend. Initially quite cloudy, but potentially turning colder, albeit brighter from the north by Sunday.
The big story: How a Sheffield beauty spot turned into a night-time no-go area
Top line: People who live near the South Street Amphitheatre say their concerns about persistent anti-social behaviour at the popular local beauty spot are being ignored. Can anything be done to help people feel safer?
Opened in 2011, the South Street Amphitheatre was part of an £800,000 plan to regenerate the area behind Sheffield Midland station and create a green corridor from Victoria Quays to Norfolk Park. The Visit Sheffield website outlines the original vision for the site:
“Under the shadow of Park Hill, it boasts one of the very best views of the city centre, and has been used for performances, screenings and installations — but mainly is used by folks hanging out on nice, sunny days.”
Would that it were. After dark falls, the amphitheatre more often resembles its namesakes in ancient Rome rather than simply a nice place to watch the sunset.
The amphitheatre regularly attracts large crowds and dozens of cars, especially at weekends and during the lighter summer months. Huge amounts of litter are left at the site including takeaway cartons, alcohol cans and bottles, and nitrous oxide canisters.
However, as well as low-level anti-social behaviour, drug taking and drug dealing also take place (residents on Shrewsbury Road have even reported people taking drugs in their gardens). Most worryingly, in July 2022, a man was stabbed in a fight on South Street.
Attempts at enforcement have so far failed. Police do patrol occasionally but the south east neighbourhood team have a large area to cover. A security camera was installed back in 2021, but hasn’t had much effect. In the absence of any progress, the local community is mounting a fightback. A public meeting will take place at the Trades & Labour Club on Duke Street next Saturday, 13 January (10am-12.30pm) aimed at improving safety in the area.
Could the problem be designed away? Manor Castle Councillor Sioned-Mair Richards told The Tribune that money had been secured via the community infrastructure levy to create a modal filter, stopping traffic from travelling directly from Shrewsbury Road onto South Street.
A temporary traffic regulation order will also be created, banning people from parking on the road which overlooks the amphitheatre.
Including the area in the city centre public space protection order which the council will soon be consulting on is also being considered.
“It’s been going on a long time but it’s really come to a head now,” said Councillor Richards. “The people who gather there don’t seem to have an appreciation of what it’s like for local residents, but it’s deeply unpleasant for those who live there. We’re pushing hard on this and are hoping to have it up and running by March. The idea is that we can use the time that the cars aren’t there to have a proper discussion about what to do with the site.”
Our take: It’s great that people want to use the amphitheatre, and it does provide a great place from which to view the Sheffield skyline. However, the way it is used by some people is of understandable concern to many residents and businesses in the area. With a planning application for the fifth and final phase of Park Hill’s decades long regeneration believed to be imminent, a redesigned South Street could hold out the tantalising possibility of creating a new public space which can better support the original vision for the South Street Amphitheatre.
The Weekly Whitworth ✍️
Our resident cartoonist James Whitworth with his own inimitable take on the week’s big story.
Our media picks 🔗
David Richards opens up about losing £20m from ‘devastating’ WANdisco scandal 💾 The Yorkshire Post get the interview everyone wanted with David Richards, the former CEO of scandal-hit Sheffield technology company WANDisco. As well as opening up on what the episode has cost him, both financially and mentally, he also talks about his latest artificial intelligence-led venture, Yorkshire AI Labs. Our piece from last year about Richards and WANDisco is here.
Nature running rampant 📸 As we mentioned last week, Sheffield artist Matthew Conduit has a new exhibition of large format photos which focus on how nature has reclaimed former industrial areas in Sheffield and on the Yorkshire coast. Here, regular Tribune contributor David Bocking speaks to him about why he is attracted to these “edgelands”, and how he makes the huge images from up to 80 smaller photos. The show is on at the Graves Gallery until 15 June.
17 photos perfectly capturing life at city's Park Hill flats over the years 🏢 A lovely photo gallery in The Star focuses on the long history of Sheffield’s iconic Park Hill flats. Photos included show the building’s original chippy, legendary barber Mister T, how the kitchens looked in the 1950s when the flats were first built, and the complex’s conker champions from 1998. The Star also has another gallery about Sheffield’s legendary 80s nightclub The Limit here.
Home of the week 🏡
This beautifully-designed one bedroom ground floor apartment in Middlewood has off-road parking and is a stone’s throw from the Supertram network. It is on the market for £125,000.
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 poll instance, and we will treat your information with confidence and sensitivity.
Spinning out of control? ✈️
There has been an intriguing update to our members’ piece last week about the new Compass facility at the AMRC. To recap. When Chancellor Jeremy Hunt travelled to South Yorkshire last July to unveil plans for a new high-tech factory backed by aerospace giant Boeing, he was quoted as saying the £80 million cost of the facility was to be met by private investment. This was repeated by the AMRC themselves and by South Yorkshire Mayor Oliver Coppard, who said that the £80 million cost of the factory was to be met entirely by Boeing.
The only problem was, it wasn’t true. When we contacted the Treasury last week they told us that Mr Hunt had been misquoted, and hadn’t actually said the investment was private in the first place. However, thanks to the magic of the Wayback Machine, we now know that he did originally say the money was private investment, and that the quote was changed at some later date. Maybe this was an honest mistake, which was then unfortunately repeated by local leaders. Maybe it was government spin that was never corrected.
Compass, which will conduct research into making aircraft from lighter materials and could help the industry achieve net-zero, is a coup for our region. However, rather than being entirely funded by private investment, the factory will be built and kitted out using money from the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority, Sheffield City Council and two government agencies which fund the aviation industry and advanced manufacturing. Contrary to the initial public pronouncements, it’s largely a taxpayer-funded project.
Things to do 📆
Ballet 🩰 On Tuesday, the Lyceum welcomes back The Nutcracker, a spectacular family favourite and the perfect introduction to classical ballet. The Nutcracker is a feast for the senses; the enchanting tale of Clara’s adventures with her Nutcracker Prince is full of magic and wonder for audiences of all ages. Tchaikovsky’s score, performed by a live orchestra, completes the magical experience. The show runs until Saturday and tickets are £15-£45.
Books 📚 If your New Year’s resolution is to get your first book published, the Sheffield Draft Night might be the thing you need. Each month, readers have 3-5 minutes to read from their manuscript. Readings will be just enough to leave people wanting to know, hear or read more. This is a space for writers and readers, publishers, editors, agents, and anyone who loves a good read. The event takes place on Wednesday at the Central Library from 6.30-7.30pm.
Talk 🔞 A talk about the psychology of fetish and kink will take place this Thursday at The Leadmill. A recent study in the UK found that approximately 50% of adults reported having a fetish or kink but despite this, they are often shrouded in taboo and misunderstanding. In this talk you will learn about both the psychology and biology of fetishes, and explore research which examines the role of power dynamics in kink. Doors open at 7pm and tickets are £14.