New funding and promises to 'transform' Sheffield's streets

Plus: a creepy new art exhibition at the Forum

Welcome to your Monday briefing from The Tribune.

In today’s newsletter we have an in-depth look at all the cycling schemes that have been proposed for Sheffield, plus all our usual recommendations — including outdoor festivals and a creepy new art exhibition at the Forum on Division Street.

We got lots of responses to our weekend read about the crisis at Sheffield DocFest. If you haven't read that piece you can still do so here.

Last week we sent our members stories about a dramatic late night rescue in the Peak District and the moving story of a former refugee whose family are stranded in Afghanistan (One member wrote: “This article is worth the subscription alone. Exceptionally moving”).

This week we’ll have two more great members-only stories. To get those stories and be one of the early patrons of our new approach to quality journalism in South Yorkshire, join up as a member now with the button below. It costs less than £1.50 a week if you join for a year (£70).

This week’s weather

The big story: New funding and promises to 'transform' Sheffield's streets

Top line: Sheffield’s cycling infrastructure is to be transformed under government-funded plans that hope to connect the entire city via a network of cycle paths.

Background: In 2020, the Sheffield City Region was awarded £166 million from the government’s Transforming Cities Fund to improve public transport, walking and cycling infrastructure across the county. £50m of this funding will come to Sheffield.

What’s planned? Proposals were unveiled in July for a huge cycle path connecting the city centre with south Sheffield. The Sheaf Valley route would stretch from Pond Hill to Woodseats and be paid for by a £3.4m government grant. It must be in place by next March.

At the same time, two low-traffic or “active” neighbourhood schemes were announced for Crookes and Nether Edge. These could include road closures, one way systems, the creation of “school streets” which ban cars at peak times and more cycle parking.

City-wide vision: Both these schemes are part of an overall vision for the city called “Connecting Sheffield”. The scheme would see the whole of Sheffield linked up via a network of cycle paths, making journeys by bike right across the city safe and easy.

Looking ahead: Amid cycle-lane frenzy in Sheffield, several storm clouds are building on the horizon which could pose problems for the city’s cycling revolution.

  • Political hot potato: The centrepiece of the plan, the pedestrianisation of Pinstone Street, is disliked by the council’s Labour leadership but has become totemic for the Greens. Claims from the Greens that the government money is dependent on the city centre scheme remaining in place are as yet unproven.

  • More haste, less speed? Concerns have also recently been raised that these schemes are being developed too quickly. Lib Dem Councillor Richard Shaw told the local democracy reporting service that cycle routes imposed in a hurry and without consultation tend not to work as intended, with Shalesmoor being a case in point.

  • Joined up thinking? And a new shopping complex on Penistone Road opposite Hillsborough which was given planning permission last week has been described as a “disaster for cycling”. The Upper Don Trail Trust said the proposals didn’t include sustainable active travel routes and that the decision was a failure of planning policy.

Bottom line: Our current car use in Sheffield is unsustainable and the council is right to pursue cycling as a solution. But the big question is whether the schemes on offer will be enough to change people’s habits. Until there is political unanimity at the Town Hall and council departments all pull in the same direction, the schemes are unlikely to have the desired effect.

Spot the difference

Thanks to Sheffield Museums for sharing this painting of Janson Street in Carbook as it was in 1950. As you can see from the Google Street View image below, the area has changed out of all recognition over the last 70 years, apart from the distinctive spires of Carbrook School in the distance.

Covid-19 update

Cases: The current Covid case rate in Sheffield — the number of positive cases per 100,000 people over seven days — is 344.5, up 8.3% or 155 cases on last week. However, Sheffield City Council tweeted last week that this is thought to be a huge undercount, with only around 20-25% of cases showing up in the official figures.

Hospitals: The number of people currently being treated for Covid in Sheffield’s main hospitals is 88, the same number as last week. However, four patients are also being treated in Sheffield Children’s Hospital and one in a Sheffield Health and Social Care Trust hospital. At least 10 deaths links to the disease have taken place over the last seven days.

Vaccines: 743,376 vaccine doses have now been given out in Sheffield, including 391,600 first doses and 351,776 second doses. Sheffield’s public health team say the city’s vaccination coverage is good but the number of new people getting vaccinated is dropping.

Our favourite reads

  1. The Sydney Morning Herald has a lovely piece about the film version of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie which premieres at the Crucible Theatre on Friday. Reporter Stephanie Bunbury speaks to the creative team behind the film and stage versions of the story about how they created the hugely popular musical from a 2011 BBC documentary about a 16-year-old drag queen from County Durham.

  2. A nice story in South Yorkshire Live about the people who live on narrow boats on the Tinsley Canal and Victoria Quays. Reporter Phoebe Fuller speaks to the owners of the Dorothy Pax bar and a boat engineer about life on the water and finds out that despite its city centre location, Sheffield is actually known as one of the quieter spots on the country’s canal network.

  3. This Vice interview is a few years old but is fascinating and has some great pictures. Sheffield photojournalist Jeremy Abrahams’ Arrivals project photographed people who arrived in the city from abroad between 1945 and 2016, with each person choosing whereabouts in the city they wished to be photographed. The project was exhibited at Weston Park Museum five years ago and can still be seen in full on Abrahams’ website.

Things to do

Festival: The Castlegate Festival is now underway and continues until Sunday, September 19. There’s lots going on over the next week so check out the website for a full rundown of all the heritage and entertainment events on offer. If you’re not familiar with Sheffield’s historic centre you could do worse than to start with a walking tour of the “blue plaques” denoting where some of the area’s most famous people lived and worked. The Tribune covered one of these people, legendary black circus owner Pablo Fanque, in a previous members-only newsletter which we’ve now made available to everyone.

Learn: Heritage Open Days continue this week, featuring a vast array of activities to choose from. One that caught our eye is a behind the scenes tour of the industrial collection at Kelham Island Museum. The tours take place on Wednesday, September 15 at 11.00am, 1.00pm and 2.30pm. The sessions are free but booking is essential.

Theatre: Starting on Tuesday, September 14, the Lyceum Theatre welcomes the smash-hit musical version of the pitch-black teen comedy Heathers (the brilliant 1989 film starring Winona Ryder and Christian Slater). The show is set in Westerberg High School where social hierarchy is everything and popularity is literally a matter of life and death.

Art: From Thursday, September 16, the Forum’s Artcade gallery has a new exhibition of work by Kieran Ingram. The gallery’s Facebook page says “Otherworld” has been inspired by the folk horror film and literary genre, traditional British folklore and the occult. The opening party is on Thursday and the gallery is open on Saturdays between 10-5.

Outdoors: Sheffield Walking Festival is now underway and continues until Sunday, September 19. There are more than 30 routes in the festival, all of varying lengths and themes. Some of them are entirely city-based while others venture into the great outdoors. And on Saturday, September 18, the Sheffield Waterfront Festival returns to Victoria Quays and Attercliffe Don Valley Moorings, featuring loads of water and land-based activities, entertainment and stalls.