The holes in the Sheffield City Goals
Plus, what to watch at the Showroom this month
Good afternoon readers — and welcome to our Monday briefing.
“If you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time”. A trite piece of self-help advice perhaps, but one with more than a grain of truth in it. So we were excited when we first heard about the plan to create Sheffield City Goals. These could provide the momentum for the city’s big institutions to make things better in Sheffield — or so we thought.
The final goals have recently been slipped out without fanfare… but what are they? And will they make the slightest bit of difference to what happens in Sheffield over the next decade? That’s our big story today, and we’re not feeling hopeful…
Catch up and coming up
For our hugely popular weekend read, Dan visited Fulwood to find out why residents are revolting about a new luxury development planned for their area. You can still read that piece here and paying members can join in the very lively debate in the comments section (73 comments and counting so far!).
Last week we sent out two fantastic newsletters to our 1,990 paying members. In the first, Dan went in search of the small community of new age travellers who live at Club Mill Road to find out why the council is trying to evict them four years after they moved them on from the ski village. And in the second, Victoria took a deep dive into the contested history of one of Sheffield’s most beloved pubs, the Gardeners Rest. An extract from that second piece is below.
Carter hasn’t set foot in the Gardeners Rest for years. I’m told no one from Yes2Ventures, a social enterprise dedicated to helping disadvantaged people into work, still drinks there. As its founder Mark Powell puts it, none of those involved from their side “have had the heart to go back in” because, though they wish those now running it all the best, the pub represents a “tremendous disappointment”. Carter, who stresses that he can only speak for himself and not the Yes2Ventures organisation, adds that he’s saddened that its involvement seems to have been written out of history. “The story from the board members now is that they all sat down over a pint and decided to buy the pub,” he says, “but that’s not quite the full story. They just like that version better.”
This week we’ll send out two more crackers, including one about the future of the region’s once mighty steel industry, and another about why on earth a London marketing company has been chosen to rebrand Sheffield. To help fund a new way of doing journalism, please consider subscribing if you haven’t already. It costs just £1.34 a week or 23p a day if you pay for 12 months up front (£70).
Editor’s note: We’re now just 10 short of reaching our long-term goal of 2,000 paying members! When we first set The Tribune up, our goal was sustainability. Now we’ve achieved this, you might think that we don’t need more members. We currently have two reporters, but we’re ambitious for the future of journalism in Sheffield. In the past the city had dedicated politics, education and health writers as well as restaurant reviewers and theatre critics. We see no reason why it can’t again. If you want to help us grow and thrive, please become a member today.
The big picture: Primary colours 🚦
We love this photo of the Moore Street substation by Emma Bothamley. The colourful lights were added in 2010, three years before it was Grade II-listed. To read our piece about the iconic building, click here.
This week’s weather 🌥
Our weather forecast comes from dedicated Sheffield weather service Steel City Skies, who say that while initially mild, our weather takes a turn to a colder pattern by midweek with a risk of sleet and snow in places.
Monday 🌥 Brightest through the morning, though windy from the WSW with mild temperatures persisting. Risk of drizzle in the cloudier spells, with highs of 11°C.
Tuesday 🌧 Turning wet as a cold front sinks south. Still rather windy and initially mild for all. Colder air moves south overnight with drier conditions. Highs of 12°C.
Wednesday 🌥 Early frost/ice risk, then dry and largely fine with bright spells and lighter winds from the west. Frost returns overnight with highs of 6°C.
Thursday ❄️ Low pressure and associated fronts bump into the cold air digging south. A risk of sleet and snow, with accumulations possible for high ground. Highs of 4°C.
Friday ☁️ A chance of drizzle or a few sleety bits, otherwise trending drier with a few bright spells amongst the cloudier periods. Still chilly with highs of 5°C.
Outlook: Staying cold into next weekend with plenty of cloud and the risk of a few, likely wintry, showers 🌬 Frost and ice an ongoing hazard overnight, though cloud may prevent anything too notable.
To see the full forecast and keep up to date with any changes to the outlook, follow Steel City Skies on Facebook.
NEW: What to watch this month
Exciting news, Tribune readers! Today we’re trialling a new monthly slot, in partnership with Sheffield’s only independent cinema, The Showroom. In the first Monday briefing of the month, we’ll be giving you three top recommendations for must-see films, to make you laugh, cry, and think. Follow the links to watch the trailers, book your ticket, and support local independent cinema.
The Zone of Interest. One of the must-see films of 2024, The Zone of Interest is a powerful and deeply chilling account of the calculations and machinations behind the construction of the Holocaust. Loosely based on the novel by Martin Amis, it portrays the disturbing juxtaposition of idyllic Nazi homelife alongside mass genocide. It’s been described as a “masterful evocation” by the Financial Times, and has been nominated for five Oscars. Watch the trailer and book your ticket here.
The Taste of Things. A delight for both lovers of film and food, The Taste of Things is a romantic drama with perfectly cooked chemistry between Juliette Binoche and Benoît Magimel. It’s 1885, and peerless cook Eugenie has worked for the famous gourmet Dodin for the last 20 years, giving rise to extraordinary dishes. But Eugenie is fond of her freedom and has never wanted to marry Dodin. So, he decides to do something he has never done before: cook for her. Watch the trailer and book your ticket here.
DocNights: Transition. DocNights is the Showroom’s monthly documentary night, and this month’s – screening as part of LGBTQ+ history month – looks to be fascinating. Transition follows Australian filmmaker Jordan Bryon’s changing life as he reports and lives in a rapidly collapsing Afghanistan. His journey as a trans-man becomes more complex when he’s granted exclusive access to a group of Taliban fighters. His relationships deepen with these men at the same time as the regime restricts all forms of freedom, creating impossible tensions. Watch the trailer and book your ticket here.
Let us know in the comments what you think of this slot and what you’re looking forward to seeing this month. And a heads up: we’re planning an exclusive invite to a Showroom screening for Tribune members, followed by food and drinks in the cafe bar. More details to follow…
The big story: The holes in the Sheffield City Goals
Where were you when you first heard about Sheffield’s City Goals? Alas, we have no idea. We saw the draft goals that went out for consultation a couple of months ago, and thought we’d wait until they were finalised before reporting. But we’re not really sure when this happened, as the launch went off, not with a bang, or even really with a whimper but in total silence. We happened to check the website last week and there they were. (Though not in an obvious way. You have to scroll right down to the bottom to find them).
What are they? 18 goals, which are meant to be the “North stars” for our city — guiding everything we do. The process has been overseen by the “Sheffield City Partnership”, a sprawling group whose board includes representatives from the Council, Chamber of Commerce, universities and voluntary sector (among others). The work was delivered by consultancy Dark Matter Laboratories, who were paid £55,226 for their efforts.
Our take: The Tribune appreciates these things are difficult. We want to be a friend to those who are trying to make our city better. But real friends tell each other the truth. So here it is: they’re dreadful.
Don’t believe us? Here are a few of them. We’ll let you make up your own mind…
Goal 2: “We have the education, training, skills and resources we need to pursue our curiosity and develop new ideas for the benefit of ourselves, others and Sheffield’s reputation regionally, nationally and globally.”
Goal 14: “We are honest with each other about the challenges we face in our communities, and are brave enough to find common ground, heal divides and try new things out together.”
Goal 16: “We make long-term decisions that address the economic, ecological and social crises we face and create opportunities for everyone to contribute to the city’s present and future”
(Full list available here)
Nothing to disagree with in any of that, of course – but that’s not the point. They’re meant to be goals that guide what the major institutions in our city do in the coming years. They won’t do that, because they fail on several counts:
Unclear. The process has involved masses of consultation. That’s a good thing — but what we’ve ended up with is an attempt to cram every single person’s view into a cumbersome list. No-one has taken the important decisions on what should — and more importantly should not — go in. So you’re none the wiser about what’s actually important.
Unmemorable. A goal should be a pithy, clear statement of what you’re trying to achieve. These are waffly, wordy, and instantly forgotten. Just see how much you can remember of the three above by the time the next Tribune e-mail arrives. Then reflect on the fact that there are fifteen more of them and shudder.
Unmeasurable. There’s more to life than what you can measure, but you need some means of tracking progress. Are we finding common ground and healing divides? Does everyone have the opportunity to contribute to the city’s present and future? How could we ever hope to tell?
Uninteresting. A goal should excite you, and inspire you to work towards it. They should be up on billboards. But what we’ve got will leave any sentient human being cold. (It doesn’t help that they don’t feel very Sheffield-specific either).
The Tribune suspects that some of those involved realise this — hence so little noise when they were finalised. But it’s a massive missed opportunity. A good set of goals really can change what a city does. These don’t give us that.
The contrast is stark when you compare with the UN sustainability goals — a set of 17 goals that have been so influential they’re widely used by other organisations to track what they’re doing. They include zero hunger, no poverty, and affordable and clean energy. There’s more detail underneath for those who need it – but everyone can easily understand what the UN are targeting. They’ve also got strong branding that allows them to be widely used and easily recognised.
Lest we be accused of carping from the sidelines, we’ve looked back over our reporting and come up with a few goals of our own for Sheffield — all in five words or fewer:
Clean Air. Who wants to breathe dirty air? No-one, so we should all be able to get behind ending one of the city’s big killers. It’s easy to measure, and they’ve introduced a clean air zone anyway, so why not tie it to a big goal?
Five clean rivers. In Sheffield, the rivers make the city. They’re the reason we’re here, and bring some of our favourite places to life. But four out of five of them experienced significant sewage spills last year. Make this a goal and you can focus minds on fixing the problem.
Eliminate the life expectancy gap. Everyone is uncomfortable with the vast discrepancies in health outcomes between east and west in our city — and rightly so. Metro Mayor Oliver Coppard has made it a big focus — why not get everyone in the city singing from the same hymn sheet?
Home of UK advanced manufacturing. This sector is our calling card, with the AMRC being genuinely world class. We should be doing everything we can to be the biggest and best in the country.
Net gain in talent. At the moment, we lose talented professionals at every level – the only group we see a net gain in are students. It’s a serious economic problem that requires a laser focus on generating good jobs.
Biggest theatre audiences outside London. Sheffield Theatres put on amazing shows, which Standing at the Sky’s Edge has brought to national attention. There’s no reason we can’t aim to draw the biggest theatre crowds beyond the West End.
Sheffield City Partners, just send us the cheque in the post…
Bottom line: The Tribune VAR team says: these goals should be disallowed.
What do you think would be good city goals for Sheffield? Let us know in the comments and we’ll include the best ones in our Thursday edition.
The Weekly Whitworth ✍️
Our cartoonist James Whitworth with his own take on this week’s big story.
Our media picks 🔗
Alison Teal 'poised' to take legal action against Green Party over suspension 🏳️⚧️ Let it be known we’ve had our suspicions that Alison Teal’s relationship with the Green Party had soured beyond repair since the end of last month, when she put out a tweet openly criticising the party for making decisions “based on patronage, not reason”. Now, however, the gloves have come off — the Yorkshire Post reports she is “poised” to take legal action against the Greens over her suspension, triggered over a year ago by her public remarks about transgender people. As we reported last summer, rumours have been swirling that a wealthy donor is anonymously helping out with her legal fees.
How Jonathan Morgan’s ‘immoral’ relationship with teenage player led to sacking ⚽ The manager of Sheffield United Women, Jonathan Morgan, has been sacked by the club thanks to phenomenal investigative reporting by The Athletic. Morgan’s managerial style came under scrutiny a few months ago following the suicide of midfielder Maddy Cusack, who was found dead in her family home at the age of 27. While the club initially seemed willing to stand behind him, they quickly changed their mind after The Athletic uncovered allegations that he had a secret relationship with a teenage player while manager of Leicester City.
Gig 63. Death Cult, The Limit Club 🎸 The latest installment in Roger Quail’s quest to document every gig he’s ever been to sees him catch Death Cult at The Limit Club on West Street (the band became The Cult four months later). As ever with Quail’s pieces, the blog paints a vivid picture of the Sheffield of 1983, a place of long hair and lots of black clothes. There is a podcast version of the article too and he has also created a Spotify playlist to go with it.
Home of the week 🏡
In this modern and stylish two-bedroom apartment in Burgess House (part of Heart of the City development) you’ll have a range of food and drink, culture and entertainment on your doorstep. It is on the market for £225,000.
Things to do 📆
Music 🎶 The MOBO Awards come to Sheffield this week, and the city has a full programme of fringe events to mark the occasion. On Monday, some of Sheffield’s best new artists will be recognised at a talent showcase at the Crucible, while on Tuesday there will be an industry panel event with leading players from the UK’s black music scene at the City Hall. On Wednesday, a celebration of Sheffield’s black culture will take place in the Winter Garden (10am-4pm), with over 25 stalls and music acts.
Theatre 🎭 Starting on Tuesday at the Lyceum is Drop The Dead Donkey: The Reawakening! a stage reboot of the classic 90s sitcom set in the cutthroat world of 24 hour news. Starring the original cast members and written by the same award-winning team of Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin from sitcom Outnumbered, the BAFTA and EMMY award-winning comedy is bursting with razor-sharp wit and classic British humour. The show runs until Saturday, 10 February and tickets are priced £15-45.
Talk ⚒️ On Wednesday at Kelham Island Museum, learn about the fascinating story of Taylor’s Eye Witness — the nineteenth century Sheffield knife brand which is still thriving 200 years after they were first made. Founded by John Taylor in 1820, the firm specialised in producing high-quality kitchen and pocket knives from its now Grade II-listed cutlery works on Milton Street in the Devonshire Quarter. This free 90-minute talk has been organised by the Ken Hawley Collection Trust and begins at 2pm.