Good afternoon readers — and welcome to our Monday briefing.
Today we have a look at this week’s university strike which will see thousands of lecturers in the city walk out of classes from Wednesday to Friday. We also feature a worrying read about the street where cannabis farms are causing power outages and recommend a “stunning sensory experience” at Sheffield Cathedral.
We felt very privileged to have author Rachel Genn write our brilliant weekend read about growing up in Sheffield in the 1980s. You can still find that piece here.
Last week we sent out two great stories to our members: one about Sheffield artist Mandy Payne and another about a city social media account that is challenging traditional news providers. This week we’ll send out two more: one about a Sheffield diving club that has struggled to keep going through the pandemic and another about the remarkable longevity of department store Atkinson’s.
To get both those stories and help us grow The Tribune even further in 2022, please consider taking out a subscription using the button below. It costs less than £1.40 a week if you pay for a year.
This week’s weather
Our weather forecast comes from dedicated Sheffield weather service Steel City Skies, who say: “Alternating milder and colder spells to come this week, with low pressure to the north the dominant force.”
Monday ⛅️ icy start with sunshine giving way to increasing cloud and patchy rain after dark and overnight. Slowly turning less cold. Highs of 4°C.
Tuesday ☁️ windy with thicker cloud and patchy drizzle likely at times. Bright spells very fleeting with more general rain expected after dark as a cold front moves south. Highs of 11°C.
Wednesday ⛅️ large cloud amounts but some brightness too. A few showers are likely to filter down from the northwest at times. Frost overnight. Highs of 8°C.
Thursday 🌤 colder with good spells of sunshine and only a few isolated showers. A frost expected early and late. Highs of 4°C.
Friday ☂️ cloud increases with rain, perhaps preceded by a short spell of hill sleet or snow spreading east along with milder air. Highs of 7°C.
The big story: ‘These shouldn't be things we have to ask for’
Top line: Thousands of teaching staff from the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University will go on strike this week in a dispute over pension cuts, pay and working conditions.
Background: The University and College Union (UCU) are currently in dispute with the Universities UK and the Universities and Colleges Employers’ Association over several issues and a series of UK wide strikes are planned over the next few months. 58 universities across the country are involved in this week’s industrial action, including both in Sheffield.
Sheffield’s University and College Union voted overwhelmingly to take strike action from Wednesday, Dec 1 until Friday, Dec 3.
1,655 members of staff at the University of Sheffield and 819 members of staff at Sheffield Hallam University will be affected.
What do they want? The UCU says wages have fallen by 20% in real terms since 2009 and are demanding a £2,500 pay rise for all staff. A spokesperson for Sheffield UCU told The Tribune:
What we are asking for is for enough staff to be hired so that we can do our jobs within a work week; for staff to be hired on secure contracts, and for our pay to not be cut in real terms year on year. These shouldn't be things we have to ask for. They should be considered a basic responsibility of any employer. So the fundamental issue at stake here is whether university management value staff and students, and it is clear that right now, they do not.
Archaeology dispute: As well as the strike, a rally aimed at saving the University of Sheffield’s archaeology department will also take place on Wednesday. “United Against Cultural Vandalism” will take place from 11am-2pm on the Students’ Union concourse.
As The Tribune reported in June, the university’s world-renowned archaeology department is to be phased out over the next few years.
The university blamed a ‘difficult external environment’ and a ‘significant reduction’ in the number of undergraduate students for the decision.
Reaction: Managers at Sheffield Hallam University said their overriding priority was to minimise potential disruption for students and the wider university community. University of Sheffield bosses claimed that the strike action was unlikely to affect the majority of students but urged local trade unions to work with the UCU at a national level to explore ways to resolve these disputes.
Sheffield Students’ Union President Evie Croxford acknowledged the strikes would cause major disruption but said academic staff’s working conditions and students’ learning conditions did need to improve. She said:
We are urging Universities and UCU to urgently engage in meaningful negotiations which will reward the commitment and skill of staff and see any disruption averted.
Analysis: As we’ve reported before, education is now Sheffield’s major industry, and tensions between those commercial considerations and what many academics see as the institutions’ original purposes of widening access to learning are probably inevitable. This is now the fourth year in a row that strike action has taken place on city campuses, and some union members are predicting a “rocky 2022” unless a resolution can be found.
There were hundreds of amazing photos of Sheffield in the snow on social media over the weekend but a few of the best came from this Twitter account. Billing itself as “dark pictures from the Dark Peak,” the account holder also has a website which is also well worth a look.
Cases: The Covid case rate for Sheffield — the number of positive cases per 100,000 people over seven days — currently stands at 298.5, 138 cases or 7.3% down on last week. The England average is 439.5, 4.6% up on last week.
Hospitals: 135 people are being treated for Covid-19 in hospital in Sheffield, a rise of 13 from last week. 10 of these patients are on ventilation, a rise of one from last week. 13 deaths linked to the virus have taken place over the last seven days.
Vaccines: The vaccine rollout is all about boosters now. Third jabs are to be offered to all over 18s in the UK while the recommended gap between second doses and boosters is also being reduced from six to three months.
Rules: The government announced on Saturday that new rules on mask wearing would be brought in to fight the spread of the new Omicron variant. From tomorrow, masks will be compulsory in shops and on public transport (but not in hospitality), while all people who have come into contact with someone who has the Omicron variant will have to self-isolate for 10 days. People entering the UK will also have to have a PCR test by the end of their second day in the country and self-isolate until they get a negative result.
Home of the week
This picture postcard two-bedroom stone cottage in Ringinglow is just yards from the Peak District and offers wonderful views to both front and rear. It is on the market for £285,000.
News in brief
As well as the lecturers’ industrial action, Stagecoach bus drivers have begun a week-long strike over pay. More than 500 staff across South Yorkshire are taking part with the Sheffield drivers due to stay out until Sunday. The union want a better pay deal than the 2% they’ve been offered.
Sheffield’s struggles to finalise a local plan have been well-documented. But it looks like North East Derbyshire are about to finalise theirs with a vote on the proposal today. A last-ditch attempt by the current leadership to remove two green belt sites at Dronfield and Coal Aston failed.
With Covid likely to be with us for some time to come, scientists at the University of Sheffield have created a “transformative” test that takes just five minutes to process. It is hoped the tests will be used to get rapid results in places like hospitals and care homes, airports and events like concerts.
Our favourite reads
A nice story in The Star about the Friends of Wardsend Cemetery’s project to tell the stories of 35 men who died in World War One who are either buried there or recorded on family memorials. The World War and Wardsend project includes photographs and newspaper clippings and can be found on the FOWC website here.
Friend of The Tribune Roger Quail’s latest blog tells the story of when his band The Box drafted in Stephen Mallidner from Cabaret Voltaire for two gigs in 1982. The first takes place at the Marples on Fitzalan Square (“a pub where you wiped your feet on the way out”) while the second takes place at Heaven in London. In between the Falklands War breaks out.
Most of the recent talk about “greening” transport in Sheffield has focused on cycling and public transport, but electric cars will also need to make a significant contribution to achieving net zero. This piece in The Conversation by University of Sheffield PhD candidate Rachel Lee outlines how the transition can be both sustainable and just.
A worrying piece in Yorkshire Live about a Rotherham neighbourhood which has seen a spate of power cuts thought to be caused by cannabis farms. Reporter Maynard Manyowa travels to the Eastwood district of the town but finds a community scared to talk about the problems the drug trade is causing in their area.
It’s the time of year that newspapers and magazines like to compile their “best of” lists and Sheffield chanteuse Self Esteem has come out top in one! Her single “I Do This All The Time” has been named The Guardian’s best song of 2021, beating off stiff competition from Abba, The Weeknd and Billie Eilish. A huge 2022 awaits.
Venus de Millhouses
Lots of people have been sharing this on social media this weekend but we wanted to celebrate the artist’s skill once more. This stunning ice sculpture copy of the Venus de Milo by Alexandros of Antioch appeared in Endcliffe Park on Saturday, although the artist has yet to be found.
Things to do
Music: Anyone of my vintage will probably have fond memories of Britpop band Shed Seven, who play the O2 Academy on Tuesday night. The band were never as famous as the biggest 1990s stars but their best known songs (Chasing Rainbows, Going for Gold) are undoubted classics of the era. Support is provided by hometown heroes Reverend and the Makers.
Visit: Sheffield Cathedral’s latest light show The Beginning will see the building transformed into a “stunning sensory experience of vision and sound.” The show tells the Nativity story through images projected on the cathedral’s historic walls. It runs from Tuesday until Sunday and tickets are £7.50 for adults, £6 for children aged 3-15 (under 3s free), and £3 for carers.
Learn: A workshop aimed at finding out where power lies in Sheffield takes place tomorrow at Union Street in the city centre. Questions will include who calls the shots in the city and how can ordinary people get involved in the decisions which affect all our lives. The workshop will also hear from Ruth Hubbard from It’s Our City! and tree protesters Calvin Payne and Simon Crump.
Theatre: It’s almost officially panto season and this year’s Lyceum Theatre production is the much-loved Sleeping Beauty. The show stars Janine Duvitski from Benidorm as Fairy Moonbeam and is written and directed by Paul Hendy from the smash hit Cinderella. Sleeping Beauty runs from Friday, December 3 to Monday, January 3.
Market: Kelham Island Museum’s Victorian Christmas Markets return this weekend with food and drink, unique gifts, a fairground, singing and Santa. The market is open from 10am-7pm on Saturday 4 and from 10am-5pm on Sunday 5. Adults entry is £7.50 while children under 16 go free. Advance tickets have sold out but you can still pay on the day.