Telegraph Voices: How can Sheffield change and evolve as a city by the year 2020?

'˜Tourist experience would bring in more employment'

Monday, 16th January 2017, 9:37 am
Updated Monday, 16th January 2017, 9:41 am
Yorkshire Vision of Portland Works,Sheffield which was built in 1877, and offers affordable workspace for small manufacturing businesses as well as independent artists and craftsmen.Stuart Mitchell Picture Scott Merrylees SM1002/78g

Joy Bullivant, Timewalk Project

I’m in my 60s now, so have seen quite a few changes in my lifetime, though two-thirds of it I lived elsewhere.

Joyce Bullivant

Maybe because I’m an outsider, and have lived in other cities, I see Sheffield differently.

As a historian looking at Sheffield’s history there are certain aspects that recur time and time again. That is Sheffield’s resilience.

Right now within Sheffield’s heritage buildings there is a new economic activity which is vibrant and exciting.

Buildings such as Portland Works are hubs for a mix of old Sheffield crafts, small manufacturing and modern creative industries.

Neville Martin, Federation of Small Businesses.

The old works of Sheffield are perfect for co-working. That was how they were designed.

Also happening is the Real Junk Food Project and co-operatives such as Regather.

Within the heritage sector there is a strong push and enthusiasm to make things work. These factors are improving the local economy and could create a tourist experience that would bring in work for unskilled people.

Using apprenticeship schemes we could train people in building restoration, horticulture (parks) and other useful skills that could get them long-term work.

Children's centre campaigner Chrissy Meleady

It is Sheffield’s heritage that is reviving the city and yet Sheffield Council don’t seem to have noticed.

Just think what we could do if they worked with us, not against us.

While Sheffield Council goes chasing national and international companies, Sheffield, as it always has done, gets on with it.

Sheffield’s independent traders are doing better than large national stores. The mix of community, cooperatives, and commercial is a good mix.

So why is Sheffield Council still about 20 years behind? What’s wrong with a city centre full of quirky cafes, local independent traders, small manufacturers and inner-city living, where all the profits go back into local community?

When you think about it, that’s the way Sheffield evolved in the first place.

Why try to be like other cities? Why not be proud of being Sheffield?

‘We need to inspire the younger generation’

Neville Martin, development manager, South Yorkshire Federation of Small Businesses

From the Little Mesters’ Workshops of a bygone age to today’s Digital Campus, Sheffield’s heritage reflects the enterprise, inventiveness and industriousness of its people. Sheffield’s history is arguably of greater strategic importance in social and economic terms than that of any northern city. Today the city is undergoing massive redevelopment, but we are in danger of losing our industrial heritage.

Joyce Bullivant

As my headmaster Herbert Wadge impressed upon me in the 1960s, it is only by embracing the past that we can begin to envision a future. But this great city’s irreplaceable heritage is in mortal danger of being lost to future generations.

In the past year my work with the FSB has placed me increasingly in contact with young people, and the more contact I have, the more I am convinced there is no shortage of ideas, innovation and ambition among the Sheffield workforce of the future. A skilled workforce has always been vital to business and economic performance. Today the impact of technology means it’s crucial for business leaders and workers to learn and apply new skills. What we must understand however is that other skills, such as management and enterprise, remain key to Sheffield’s productivity. By giving young people a flavour of their glorious cultural heritage we will inspire a confidence in future achievement.

The city’s key objectives must be to get young people interested in business and inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs. The city’s twofold challenge is therefore to embed business and enterprise within the education system, while finding ways of helping small firms invest in areas such as digital skills and management.

‘Engage with values to address our issues’

Chrissy Meleady, Chair, Sheffield Children’s Centre

We move towards 2020 in a deficit position. Sheffield has faced challenges that are unprecedented in our recent history.

Austerity measures have to date not abated and are planned for onward implementation, even up to 2020, wreaking havoc on our city, especially upon our people and their opportunities and quality of life.

Consultations, with preordained outcomes and resultant talk of best value and rationalisation, have become the norm.

These have fooled nobody.

In the build-up to and for the year 2020, I am firmly of the belief that Sheffield must engage with core values, and with progressive interests willing to co-operate in order to address the crucial issues identified by Sheffield’s people as priorities for action.

In 2020, I would hope to see Sheffield as a great place for everyone to grow up in, live in, visit, learn in, work in and invest in, where homelessness, unemployment and poverty, along with CSE, discrimination and other abuses and inequalities have been eliminated.

A city of hope, where all the public services and public servants who are tasked with serving us and being accountable to us have fully re-engaged with and live by their publicly espoused core values, principles and ideology of serving by consensus, while upholding fairness, openness, transparency and honesty in all they do.

A city where individuals, families and communities are rightfully at the heart of meaningful civic engagement, with efforts made to build their capacity to be catalysts of change by arming them with the skills, knowledge and tools they need to have real autonomy, and unfettered input into the authorities tasked with serving them and where community ownership flourishes.

Our aptitude to identify and harvest positive opportunities, hope and community cohesion is integral to determining the future trajectory of Sheffield’s economy and society, not only in 2020 but over the next generation.

‘Grassroots projects can take us forward’


Change in cities takes a long time, especially in a modern setting as attitudes over the years have changed. Funding for capital-intensive, top-down projects usually is harder to come by than it once was and often less socially acceptable – HS2, the New Retail Quarter and the Streets Ahead programme all have their critics, limitations and consequences.

More often than not grassroots, small-scale projects provide the best value for money and are usually more popular.

I’d like to see solar PV panels installed on as many local authority-owned buildings as possible, with surplus electricity being sold commercially through a Sheffield Electricity Company. This would bring in much-needed capital that can be reinvested in expanding the scheme. In the longer term the revenue can be spent elsewhere in the city’s budget and encourage people and businesses to do the same with their roof space.

Sheffield desperately needs more park and ride facilities to cut congestion in the city centre and to encourage investment in public transport infrastructure.

Several brownfield sites on the edge of the city provide perfect locations with relatively little expenditure in the short term. This should satisfy landowners as it provides them with an income while they plan a long-term future for their sites. All you need then is a shuttle bus.

If we plant ivy and other creeping plants on the retaining walls and bridge pillars supporting our transport network we can begin to address the problems linked with air pollution that traffic creates. We need to plan to mitigate against flooding by re-wetting our uplands, ensuring our ancient woodlands are fully protected and allow our mature street trees to thrive where possible.

The most important thing to remember is we can’t be complacent. Everything in time has to change. We must plan for the short, medium and long term.

Neville Martin, Federation of Small Businesses.
Children's centre campaigner Chrissy Meleady