Sheffield's big summer plans

Plus, the rest of our weekly briefing

Welcome readers to this week’s Tribune briefing. Today’s newsletter has a look at plans to transform Sheffield city centre this summer, some lovely news for one of the city’s unsung heroes and all our usual recommendations and updates.

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The big story: Summer in ‘The Outdoor City’

The top line: Sheffield city centre is to be transformed this summer with outdoor hospitality and a ‘European piazza’ style atmosphere under plans to entice visitors back to the city.

The plan: ‘Summer in The Outdoor City’ (SITOC) hopes to capitalise on Sheffield’s reputation as an outdoors centre to bring Sheffielders back to the city centre and encourage people from outside to ‘staycation’ here.

  • The SITOC campaign will promote the city’s main annual events like the Tramlines fringe and the Cliffhanger climbing festival.

  • But it will also push new initiatives like an ‘alfresco avenue’ for outdoor hospitality on Division Street and events in Tudor Square aimed at creating a ‘new Covent Garden’.

What’s going on? Events are planned for the city centre as well as district centres including Walkley, Broomhill, Firth Park and Hillsborough. On Division Street, a new market will take place on the last Saturday of every month, while music and theatre performances will take place at Tudor Square.

Orchard Square will also host craft stalls, arts events, music shows and food markets, while the Leadmill will be creating three separate acoustic music trails across 15 independent venues. People are also being encouraged to run their own events and can submit details here.

Why is it needed: After successfully negotiating three stages of the government’s coronavirus roadmap, Sheffield city centre certainly seems as busy as ever. But data shows that footfall in the city centre is still a fifth lower than pre-pandemic levels.

  • The local democracy reporting service revealed there were 213,732 visitors to the city in the week commencing May 17, after the last stage in the roadmap was reached.

  • While this was significantly up from the 185,416 in the previous week when restrictions were still in place, it is still around 20% lower than normal for this time of year.

Business reaction: Diane Jarvis, from Sheffield Business Improvement District (BID), said they were confident the council and business funded events would drive much needed economic growth across the city. She said:

This level of summer programming is essential to bring the city back to life and help to entice people back in. Now more than ever, local businesses need activities to drive visitor participation, dwell time and spend to stimulate the economy across several sectors.

Office staff: A sore point for many businesses is the thousands of council employees who have not yet returned to their city centre offices. Staff from other big employers like Plusnet now work from home permanently. Until these people return or are replaced, the city centre will continue to struggle.

Continuing uncertainty: The council says the programme will run from June to October, but parts of it may now have to be delayed or rethought due to continuing uncertainty over Covid. All restrictions were due to be removed on June 21, but that is now likely to be put back by a number of weeks. The Prime Minister will announce the government’s new timetable later today.

This week’s weather

Covid-19 update

Cases: The Covid case rate in Sheffield — the number of positive cases per 100,000 population over seven days — is rising again. The current rate of 35.1 or 205 cases is almost 50% up on last week. But is still well below the current England average of 63.9, which is being driven up rapidly by the so-called ‘Delta’ variant.

Hospitals: This is not yet translating into many more hospital cases, however, with just eight patients being treated in the city’s hospitals, an increase of one from last week. Two of these are on ventilation, the same number as last week. It is now over a month since the last deaths linked to the virus were recorded in Sheffield.

Vaccines: 546,583 vaccine doses have now been given out in Sheffield, including 327,127 first doses and 219,456 second doses. More than two thirds of people in the city have now had their first dose, while over 85% of everyone aged 60 and above have now had both doses.

The pace of the vaccine rollout is now increasing rapidly in Sheffield. A pop-up vaccination centre opened at the Church of God of Prophecy on Duke Street on Friday and another opened at the Crucible on Saturday. A walk-in centre at the University of Sheffield’s Octagon Centre for anyone over 25 who hasn’t had their first vaccine opens today.

‘So lucky to live in Sheffield’

This stunning view of Sheffield’s western edge from near the Old Horns Inn in High Bradfield was shared to Twitter by Jason Siddall. “So lucky to live in Sheffield,” he says. We couldn’t agree more Jason.

Book of the week

Strong Stuff by AF Stone

Strong Stuff focuses on Ruby, a 15-year-old Sheffield girl who cares for her mother. Her caring responsibilities mean she misses out on lots of normal childhood experiences, but when her mum dies suddenly, she’s left with a choice between foster parents or a dad who's never been part of her life.

Strong Stuff is young adult author Amy Stone’s second published book, although it was actually the first she wrote. Her first published novel, The Raven Wheel, was nominated for the Arnold Bennett Book Prize in 2020, an award open to writers from Staffordshire, where she grew up.

33-year-old Amy originally came to Sheffield to study English Literature at university and currently lives in Heeley with her partner, two sons and rescue dog. Fittingly, due to the book’s hard-hitting subject matter, all proceeds from the novel will go to Sheffield’s Roundabout homelessness charity.

Buy Strong Stuff here

Turner’s view from Meersbrook Park

The views are no less spectacular on the other side of Sheffield. JMW Turner visited the city as a young man in 1797, painting a watercolour of the view from what is now Meersbrook Park, on which this etching is based.

Our favourite reads

  1. The latest piece in Sheffield magazine Now Then’s ‘Radical Roots’ series focuses on the contribution people of colour have made to the city’s rich history and whether it’s sufficiently recognised. A free online event featuring the author and her interviewees will take place on Facebook on June 17. The piece also has great archive pictures that are well worth a look.

  2. There has been some rather excited chatter that the recently announced boundary changes for Sheffield’s parliamentary constituencies could give the Greens their second seat in parliament. This New Statesman piece notes the party’s impressive gains in recent local elections in Sheffield but argues this won’t necessarily translate into extra seats.

  3. A lovely travel piece in the Guardian about the Limestone Way, a lesser known but beautiful long-distance walking route in Derbyshire. The walk was dreamed up by ramblers from Matlock, who thought their area deserved more attention, and is often quieter than the more popular parts of the park.

  4. The worrying news that Jessop’s maternity unit has failed its CQC inspection received lots of coverage this week in both the national and local press. The service - which had previously been rated as outstanding - had a ‘surprise’ inspection in March after concerns were raised about safety. 

  5. A second Peak District story this week is this amazing FT piece which tells the frankly difficult to believe story of a group of wallabies which escaped from a zoo during the Second World War and set up home in Staffordshire. It also examines evidence that one or two of them might still be out there.

The beauty of brutalism

Following on from last week’s Sheffield Twitter accounts to follow, Helen Angell’s feed is an absolute joy. The self-proclaimed ‘lover of concrete’ celebrates brutalism and modernism in Sheffield and beyond, finding beauty in the most unlikely of places.

Things to do

History: The archaeologist who led a 2018 dig to find what remained of Sheffield Castle hosts an online talk about his team's findings on Monday, June 14 at 7pm. The dig found evidence not only of the castle, but also of the bowling green, slaughterhouses and steelworks that took its place after it was slighted in the Civil War. Book your place here.

Art: Finishing this Sunday at the Millennium Gallery is My Path, an exhibition of painting in which every piece has been made by someone in a prison, secure hospital, young offender institution or on probation. The show features work from across Yorkshire and has been curated by a group of young people working with Sheffield Youth Justice Service.

Football: Euro 2020 (in 2021) has now begun, with home nations England, Scotland and Wales all taking part. The excellent independent business website This Is Sheffield has put together an indispensable guide to all the city pubs and bars which are showing the games. If football is a turn off, try the city centre’s latest restaurant The Furnace, which opened to rave reviews last week. 

Heritage: One of the last three examples of the Sheffield Simplex — once thought to be the best car in the world — is currently on display at Kelham Island Museum. A talk about the car with Sheffield Museums’ head of historic engineering Eddy Foster will take place on their Facebook page on Wednesday, June 16 at 1pm.

Photography: We featured it as our book of the week last month, and now Sheffield photographer Mick Jones is exhibiting the photos from his wonderful View from the Hill imprint at the Bubba Bar in Steelyard Kelham. The exhibition begins next Sunday, June 20 with a signing and Q+A beginning at 11am.

Queen’s Birthday Honours

A nurse at Sheffield Children’s Hospital has been awarded a British Empire Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. In the last year, Adele Hague has managed the team that administered Covid tests to staff and patients at the hospital, as well as other healthcare and public service employees in the city.

In a statement released by the Children’s, Adele said: “I am so humbled. I honestly can’t believe it, but I’m really amazed people nominated me for it as I was only doing my job! I am really honoured to receive this award and celebrate the work we’ve done!”

Other city figures honoured include Sheffield City Council’s new CEO Kate Josephs, who is made a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) for public service, and University of Sheffield infectious diseases specialist Dr Thushan de Silva, who is awarded an MBE for services to Covid-19 research.

Music for the mind

The Tribune won’t be featuring pop music that often but we thought we’d make an exception for a new song by Sheffield ‘psychedelic pop’ band Minds Idle this week.

The group debuted in 2019 and put out the Live from an Island EP last year. Their latest single Harry is available on YouTube as well as on streaming services including Spotify.

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