Is ‘the blob’ taking away our takeaways?
Plus, pick up a Grade II-listed building for £65,000
Good afternoon readers — and welcome to our Monday briefing.
Who is responsible for what we eat? Well, ultimately we are of course. But in a world where big food companies saturate the market with cheap fast food backed up by wall-to-wall advertising, is this really a fair fight? Following a row that has broken out between councillors and officials at Sheffield City Council, today’s big story pits personal responsibility against Big Food, asking if it’s right that limits be placed on how many takeaways can be located near our city’s schools. And if that wasn’t enough, cartoonist Whitworth has his say on the debate as well.
Also in this briefing, we have a spooky story from elsewhere in South Yorkshire, and a rare opportunity to see Great Britain’s paralympic table tennis champions compete on their home turf.
We’re hiring: The company we’re part of, Mill Media Co, is hiring two senior positions in Manchester — one editorial and one commercial. And our Liverpool title The Post is also hiring a staff writer as well. If you know of anyone who would be suitable for any of these roles, please let them know.
Catch up and coming up
A large steel heart sits in Meadowhall shopping centre, covered in thousands of names, although you’d have to squint to read them. What many who’ve seen the Heart of Steel might not realise is that it was never meant to stay in Meadowhall for as long as it has: it’s supposed to one day beat inside the cold chest of South Yorkshire’s answer to the Angel of the North. For our weekend read, I did my best to work out why the Steel Man has stood his supporters up.
Last week, we also sent out two great newsletters to our paying members. For the first, Dan dipped a toe (and the rest of his body) into the world of wild swimming. And the second was the first ever official collaboration between Dan and myself: a long-read on Sheffield’s gang network and the gun crime that results from it.
An extract from Dan’s Tuesday piece is below.
Before she started swimming there, she’d heard all the horror stories about its “deep, dark and cold” water, and had believed them. But when she got involved with SOuP she realised you can swim there quite safely, as long as you take precautions, such as always swimming with someone else present and being wary of cold water shock. Whether she’d like it to become an official swim spot is another matter, however. Managed swim sites often charge, which she doesn’t think would be suitable for Crookes Valley Park. But without a permanent lifeguard presence she thinks you would still need a certain level of deterrence for people who are unprepared, inexperienced, or drunk. “It’s a really tricky one,” she tells me.
This week, subscribers will receive two more fascinating pieces: one about the Longshaw Sheepdog Trials, and the other about how the long-running cladding scandal has affected one Sheffield building. If you’re not already one of thousands of people helping fund a more thoughtful form of journalism in Sheffield, please subscribe using the button below. It costs just £7 a month, so less than £2 a week!
Editor’s note: Since our announcement about funding last week, there has been lots of coverage in the media about The Tribune and our sister titles. Of course, it’s brilliant to be part of something so successful. But it’s also great for Sheffield to be at the forefront of something so exciting as well. Hopefully more cities will start following this model soon. And when they do we’ll be able to say Sheffield was one of the first. Thank you, as always, for all the support you have given us.
The big picture: Sheffield at sunset 🌇
Proof that anywhere can be beautiful if you have a good eye and are in the right place at the right time! This great photo, taken by thenuka.t on Instagram, shows not Manhattan or San Francisco, but the view up Rockingham Street at sunset.
This week’s weather 🌦
Our forecast comes from dedicated Sheffield weather service Steel City Skies, who say that this week, as kids go back to school, is when summer finally arrives! Expect high pressure, heat and some fog in the mornings.
Monday ☀ Things are warming up quickly, with another azure-sky day of sunshine and light winds. Dry throughout, with highs of 27°C.
Tuesday ☀ Chance of some early mist, although soon clearing into further long spells of very warm sunshine. Light east-northeast winds with highs of 26°C.
Wednesday 🌥 Midweek brings a greater risk of morning fog, which could be slow to clear. Sunshine eventually winning, with temperatures again a very warm 26°C.
Thursday 🌥 Potentially another foggy start; burning off again to bright or sunny periods. Highs up to 28°C IF the fog clears quickly.
Friday 🌥 Low risk of an isolated downpour, otherwise set to be fair and very warm again once any mist or fog patches burn off. Sunny spells and highs of 27°C.
Outlook: The heat looks likely to persist through the weekend, though the risk of a thundery shower perhaps grows too.
The big story: Is ‘the blob’ taking away our takeaways?
Top line: A ban on opening new hot food takeaways within 800 metres of secondary schools will be discussed at this week’s full council meeting. Is the policy a necessary measure to tackle the obesity crisis, or an example of the “nanny state” trying to take away our choices?
Local Plan: The proposed ban forms part of Sheffield City Council’s long-awaited Local Plan, a draft version of which was published last year. The plan, which dictates how the city will develop up to 2039, will be finalised at the end of 2024.
The policy states new takeaways which are open between 8am and 5pm will not be allowed where the business is within 800 metres of a secondary school.
It adds that takeaways could also be banned in district or local centres where existing takeaways already make up more than 25 percent of the units.
Obesity data: According to the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (formerly Public Health England) just over a quarter of adults in Sheffield are obese (25.3%). However, when you include overweight people as well, this rises to over 60%. Only 3 in 10 adults report meeting their “five a day” fruit and vegetable target, which is a bit worse than the English average, while the data for child obesity suggests Sheffield is performing worse than the country as a whole.
Takeaway saturation: The recently published Sheffield Food Strategy called for a hot food takeaways policy to be developed as part of the new Local Plan which limits the number of outlets in areas of high deprivation and obesity, and in close proximity to secondary schools. The strategy says that in 2019, Sheffield was in the top 20% (ranked 33rd of 324 Local Authorities) for hot food takeaway saturation at 117 outlets per 100,000 residents.
Public health blob: Lib Dem Councillor for Dore and Totley Joe Otten was last month accused of running a “crusade” to get the proposed ban overturned. Writing for the Taxpayers’ Alliance in June, he said the “public health blob’s war on choice” was disproportionate and not backed by strong enough evidence.
Tobacco, alcohol, gambling and pornography, I think most would agree, are greater vices than chips and pizza, yet we don’t ban them altogether within 800 metres of a secondary school for adults and children alike. If my children’s worst vice turns out to be a takeaway from the local chippy I will be happy.
BAME businesses: Councillor Otten has also asked the council to undertake an equalities impact assessment on the policy, suggesting it may be discriminatory. He says the ban could disproportionately affect small takeaways, many of which are run by people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds. However, those who support the ban have argued that the obesity crisis also disproportionately affects BAME groups, making the calculation more difficult.
Our take: Balancing people’s competing rights is always going to be difficult. Joe Otten believes people should have a right to eat what they want when they want. However, for many of those in the Sheffield public health community, the sheer number of takeaways there now are coupled with blanket advertising means that freedom is illusory. Local authorities have surprisingly little power to control where developments take place. The Local Plan is an opportunity to introduce some sensible limits to stop takeaway takeover.
Home of the week 🏚️
I can’t believe we’re able to include a Grade II-listed property so soon after our last one. This one-bedroom flat is in Shiregreen, not too far from Northern General Hospital and Meadowhall. It has allocated parking and an open plan design, and is available for a guide price of £65,000. Not too bad if you ask me!
Our media picks 🎧
What if we gave the River Don legal rights? 🌉 Now Then magazine looks into a suggestion from nature campaigners: that we should start viewing the River Don as a resident of Sheffield, just like you or I. “When we're talking about non-human actors, there is no representation, there is no voice,” explains Alban Krashi, of the River Don project. “The premise of this is about creating some kind of framework that could facilitate for non-human actors to have their voice heard in one way or another.”
Jailed Sheffield cocaine kingpin boasted about being 'top of food chain' 🏛️ A story that may be of interest to those who read our piece on Sheffield’s gangs last week. The Star reports on the sentencing of a cocaine kingpin, responsible for distributing hundreds of thousands of pounds of Class A drugs across South Yorkshire. Callum Zide, a 34-year-old from Abbey Lane, was jailed for 17 years and six months on Friday.
Ghost hunters say paranormal recording on haunted lane is their best capture yet 👻 A slightly silly story, from the Mirror, but we couldn’t resist. The Retford Ghost Hunters claim to have recorded contact with the other side, captured while driving on the notoriously haunted Packman Lane in Kiveton. “They’ve seen a woman running across the road,” say the hunters. “There have even been UFO sightings. It seems to be one of those areas where a lot of stuff happens.”
Purple haze in the Peak 🌸
If you’ve ventured out into the Peak recently, you’ll know that the heather is absolutely magnificent at the moment. There was a lovely video on the BBC website over the weekend which helps explain why the display this year is so good, and this gorgeous photo, which was captured by Twitter user Moors and Edges (@AxelbyRichard), shows the stunning view of Fairbrook near Kinder Scout.
Things to do 📆
Film 🏊♂️ On Tuesday evening, head to the newly refurbished Samuel Worth Chapel in Sheffield General Cemetery for a “very special evening of wild swimming films”: The Ice Mile and Unsinkable. The event is part of the Sheffield Action Film Festival (or ShAFF) and lasts from 7.15pm until 10pm. Book your tickets here.
Sport 🏓 Hundreds of paralympic table tennis titans are coming to Sheffield for this year’s European Championships, a six-day tournament being held at the English Institute of Sport. More than 250 players from 35 countries are taking part and this marks only the second time Great Britain’s elite players have been able to compete on home soil since the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Find out more here.
Music 🎵 On Thursday evening, acoustic guitarist and singer-songwriter Carrie Martin is playing a gig at The Greystones, with tickets available for just a tenner. Carrie fronted a number of bands in the 90s before “casting her guitar aside in order to raise her children” but revived her music career two decades later. More information and tickets are available here.