The Sheffielders inside the room with leaders at COP26

Plus, the rest of our weekly briefing

Good afternoon readers — and welcome to this week’s briefing.

Today we take a look at the COP26 summit in Glasgow, which began last night. The event might just be hitting the headlines now, but some Sheffielders have been preparing for it for years — we find out what they are hoping to achieve this week. We also recommend a brilliant review of a new album about the River Don and a new photography exhibition on Snig Hill.

Our scary weekend story about the legend of Gabriel Hounds went down well with readers. You can still find that piece here.

Last week we sent two pieces to our 457 paying members: the first about plastic recycling in Sheffield and the second about the city’s long wait for a professional symphony orchestra. This week we’ll send two more including one about the new Ruskin Collection exhibition at the Millennium gallery.

To get both members’ pieces this week and be part of a new way of doing local news in Sheffield and the North, please consider subscribing using the button below. It costs less than £1.40 per week if you subscribe for a year.

This week’s weather

Our weather forecast comes from dedicated Sheffield weather service Steel City Skies, who say: “Low pressure fills out and clears east this week with a cold north-westerly airstream following. A ridge of high pressure crosses southern UK after midweek, with large amounts of dry weather after a turbulent Monday.”

Monday ☔ likely to be the most unsettled day of the working week with showers or longer spells of rain at times, most persistent during the morning hours. Cold and windy from the southwest with highs of 10°C.

Tuesday 🌤 much brighter and much drier with good spells of sunshine expected. It'll still be cold and breezy, but that doesn't feel as bad when the sun shines! Showers will be around, but much more isolated. Highs of just 9°C.

Wednesday ⛅️ a similar story with a cool north-northwest breeze and spells of sunshine interspersed with cloudier periods and the odd shower filtering down from them thar hills. Highs of 9°C.

Thursday ⛅️ showers should be increasingly restricted to eastern coasts as a ridge of high pressure edges in from the southwest. Therefore a dry and settled day is expected, if rather chilly once more with highs of 9°C.

Friday ⛅️ similar to Thursday with a mainly dry and fine day on the cards. With the nights being chilly and winds a little lighter, there's the chance of morning mist and fog patches in prone spots which could be slow to clear. Highs of 10°C.

Note: prone sheltered spots at risk of light frosts overnight where skies clear 🌛 Mist and fog also potentially slow to clear at times 🌫️

The big story: Sheffield goes to COP26

Top line: 120 world leaders and 25,000 others have now arrived in Glasgow for the COP26 summit. Among the delegates are a sizeable contingent from Sheffield, which has a long history of environmentalism and green activism.

What is COP26? The Glasgow summit is the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties. It is attended by the countries that signed the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change — a treaty that came into force in 1994.

  • The core themes of this conference are to secure global net zero by mid-century and keep the 1.5 degrees celsius target within reach.

  • The parties also hope to work together to protect communities and natural habitats and mobilise finance to help deliver climate goals.

Sheffield council CEO Kate Josephs is attending and says she wants the city to lead on combating the climate emergency.

  • The University of Sheffield is also sending 14 academics to the conference and is one of only a small number of UK universities awarded passes to the Blue Zone where delegates mix with non-governmental organisations.

  • One of these is Sheffield PhD student and sustainable building expert Charles Gillott (who we spoke to for our recent piece on the demolition of the Hallam Tower hotel). He has spoken of his hopes for COP26 and will be tweeting from the conference.

Grassroots campaign: As The Tribune reported previously, Sheffield Hallam MP Olivia Blake has been holding climate assemblies since the beginning of the year in order to create a citizens’ manifesto, which was presented to the Prime Minister last week.

  • The manifesto calls for “free and ubiquitous” public transport and the creation of “healthy neighbourhoods” where residents can access work, commerce, recreation and education within walking distance of their home.

  • It also says the production of food needs to be made more local and that we should encourage communal eating models like those currently being championed by Sheffield Foodhall (which The Tribune covered in July).

What will happen? The mood music before the conference isn’t great, with many arguing that radical change of the kind that is needed is unlikely to happen. After handing in her manifesto to No 10 last week, Blake gave a speech in Parliament in which she said:

To people across the country, negotiations at the summit will feel remote. And I know that while many believe passionately in taking action to address the climate crisis, they also feel powerless. There will almost certainly be a chasm separating those campaigning for climate justice on the streets of Glasgow, and those inside the conference hall. 

Optimism of the will: Tribune member Rachel Mander has walked 150 miles with the Young Christian Climate Network as part of a “climate relay” from Cornwall to Glasgow. She will also have access to the Blue Zone at the conference and have the chance to lobby world leaders. She told us:

Since the Paris Agreement in 2015 a consensus around the need to keep to 1.5 degrees has been cemented, and the groundswell of support for climate action has built. It's why world leaders now feel immense pressure to themselves attend the COP. There's an immense challenge to translate this into the rapid elimation of global carbon emissions, but certainly the warmth of the pilgrims entrance into Glasgow and the prospect of 100,000 people marching at the COP next Saturday will keep the pressure and focus up.

Our view: It’s easy to see Blake’s manifesto as a “pie in the sky” wishlist, but people in Sheffield do need to see what change would look like in their neighbourhood as well as on a global scale.

Covid-19 update

Cases: Sheffield’s Covid case rate — the number of positive cases per 100,000 people over seven days — has fallen to 373.9, down 297 cases or 11.9% on last week. The rate for England currently stands at 435.8, 9.9% down on last week.

Hospitals: There has been a rise in the number of people being treated for Covid-19 in Sheffield’s hospitals. 137 people are now in hospital with Covid, a rise of 30 from last week. 12 of these patients are on ventilation, a decrease of three from last week. Eight deaths linked to the virus have taken place over the last week.

Vaccines: 780,230 vaccine doses have now been given out in Sheffield, including 407,220 first doses and 373,010 second doses. More than 1.1m people have now been given a third vaccine or booster jab in Yorkshire and the North East.

Home of the week

This delightful four-bedroom cottage in Jordanthorpe dates back to 1660 and was the birthplace of renowned sculptor Sir Francis Chantrey. It is on the market for £550,000.

Our favourite reads

  1. An excellent if worrying piece by Helen Pidd in The Guardian about privately-owned flood defences in Sheffield. After a collapsed culvert caused a sinkhole to appear in the Decathlon car park in 2017, council officers realised that they could do little more than ask landowners to make repairs. Green leader Douglas Johnson says that privately-owned defences make coherent flood management more difficult.

  2. After we included details of a “big win” for Sheffield from the government’s levelling up fund in last week’s budget, one of our subscribers contacted us to take us to task. This sobering piece in Yorkshire Bylines makes a similar point that for all the Chancellor’s largesse, the amount of money that is now being spent on capital projects in Sheffield is tiny compared to the huge budget cuts during 11 years of austerity.

  3. As a relative newcomer to Sheffield I never got to see the wonder that was the hole in the road (or oyle in t' road) in all its glory. So I liked this comprehensive history of the city’s modernist marvel in the Sheffield Guide from a few years ago. The Castle Square underpass was opened in 1967 and lasted 27 years until it was filled in to make way for Supertram. This by the Everly Pregnant Brothers is wonderful too.

  4. An important story in The Star about a Sheffield mum who has been waiting for her Fox Hill council flat to be repaired for the last seven years. Issues at the property include endemic mold in her children’s bedrooms and holes in the walls which expose them to the outside world. The Council said the Covid pandemic had caused a backlog of work and a staff member would be contacting the tenant soon.

  5. A fascinating review of writer and musician David Bramwell’s latest album The Cult of Water by Sheffield folklore expert Dr David Clarke. Through spoken word, field recordings and music, the album takes listeners on a journey into the mythology of the River Don. Clarke's review also delves into the phantom church spires that were widely seen at Derwent reservoir in 1976, despite being blown up in 1947. 

Things to do

Radio: A one-off docu-drama on BBC Radio 4 earlier this afternoon looked back at the Sheffield tree protests. Narrated by actor Robert Glenister, Our Trees weaves together the voices of protesters to create a “dark contemporary fairytale.” The programme also includes music by Sheku Kanneh-Mason and the poem Heartwood by acclaimed author Robert McFarlane. It’s now available to listen online.

Art: The Social art gallery on Snig Hill has a new exhibition of photography by Kelham Island Art Collective-based artist and curator John Phillips. He graduated from the Sheffield School of Art in the 1970s and has work in galleries across the world including the V&A in London. Autumn Without End is made up of prints of dying flowers, but each one is in fact comprised of as many as 1,400 separate photographs, creating an eerie hyper-reality.

Crafts: Sorry if it’s too early for some but Christmas is just round the corner and the Millennium Gallery has got you covered. The Handmade for Christmas exhibition has work on show from over 40 artists, designers and craftspeople including homeware, textiles and jewellery, with all of the work hand-crafted in workshops and studios across Sheffield, Yorkshire and Derbyshire. Every purchase also raises funds for Sheffield Museums.

Podcast: South Yorkshire’s local democracy reporters have a new podcast. Town Hall Tattle is ably presented by Doncaster’s LDR George Torr and includes contributions from Sheffield’s LDRs Lucy Ashton and Molly Williams and Rotherham and Barnsley’s LDR Danielle Andrews. The BBC-funded local democracy reporting service was set up in 2018 and has been one of local news’ biggest success stories in recent years. Proper reporting.

Music: Music in the Round who we featured in our classical music piece last Friday have lots of events planned over the next week. On Thursday, November 4 the Thomas Hardy Songbook comes to the Crucible’s Studio Theatre, followed on Saturday, November 6 by both a classical guitar and accordion concert and a performance by jazz piano legend Julian Joseph (both also at the Crucible Studio). Two additional classical guitar and accordion concerts for young children (one for 0-1-year-olds and one for 1 and 2-year-olds) will take place on Saturday.

Amal arrives in Sheffield

Hundreds of people came to Victoria Quays on Friday to welcome refugee Amal to the city. The 3.5metre tall puppet of a 10-year-old Syrian girl has travelled to the UK from the Middle East to highlight the plight of children in the war torn country. After arriving by boat, she travelled to Tudor Square and the Peace Gardens where she was greeted by thousands more people.

That’s it — you’re all caught up.