SHEFFIELD MP Clive Betts this week threw his weight behind proposed restrictions on lorries through the centre of Attercliffe as part of a strategy of improving the area for businesses, shoppers and other visitors.
He is frustrated that the council “hasn’t got a grip” on action that could be taken in the short term and at relatively low cost to help what he describes as “a forgotten area”.
“This has been going on for a long time,” said Mr Betts, MP for South East Sheffield. “It’s about supporting existing businesses and keeping them going.”
In the long term, he believes a cleaner and more attractive Attercliffe can attract new housing, business and leisure. “The potential to develop the area around the canal is enormous,” he said.
But the issue of HGV restrictions – not a ban – is proving an immediate sticking point for the MP and the business community.
They say Stevenson Road was built by the former Sheffield Development Corporation to take traffic away from the heart of Attercliffe so that its reputation could be restored as prosperous neighbourhood centre without less heavy traffic, noise and air pollution.
Almost all lorries that thunder along Attercliffe Road are using it as a rat run and to save time, it is argued. HGV restrictions could be introduced without deliveries or access to companies and they have widespread support among local businesses as well as council highways officers.
However, the required political backing has not yet been given.
The council is preparing a new strategy for the future of Attercliffe and Mr Betts is looking for a framework for development once economic conditions improvd.
But he added: “There are one or two things that can be done in the short term and this can be done at relatively low cost.”
As well as helping the business community, it would improve the image of part of Sheffield that many visitors see on their way to places such as the Arena and Don Valley Stadium and as they go to and from the M1. “A lot of people drive through the area.”
No comment was available from the council but it is thought a report on an Attercliffe action plan, financed by the authority, will be presented to its cabinet on March 23.
In the past, the authority has spoken of a desire to reduce traffic and improve the environment in Attercliffe with a view to attracting investment in housing and business.
Supporters of regeneration point to potential support from British Waterways, Duke of Norfolk estates and housebuilders but attempts to promote major improvements have foundered largely because of a lack of funds.
The council hopes a new Government regeneration fund could offer a breakthrough but in the meantime pressure is mounting for a HGV ban. “It’s an opportunity to create a vibrant High Street and a prosperous district,” said one Attercliffe businessman.