Letters: “I am always happy to take up any issues”

Your correspondent Justin Smith recently wrote to you saying that I had not helped him. I had not answered an email he sent me personally, but through a member of my staff, and in the reply my case worker said that what he complained about – noisy car exhausts - was not a matter for me but for the police. What Mr Smith did not say was that in the reply (this goes back to 2015) my case worker had set out what the police can do – issue defect rectification notices – and urged him to report directly to them the specific circumstances so they could look into it. I would like your readers to know that I am always happy to take up any issues involving South Yorkshire police even if I am not able to effect operational decisions directly – which is what happened here.    Yours sincerely   Dr Alan Billings Polioce and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire  

What Mr Smith did not say was that in the reply (this goes back to 2015) my case worker had set out what the police can do – issue defect rectification notices – and urged him to report directly to them the specific circumstances so they could look into it.

I would like your readers to know that I am always happy to take up any issues involving South Yorkshire Police even if I am not able to effect operational decisions directly – which is what happened here. 

 Dr Alan Billings

Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire

Awful lot of money around in football 

Congratulations to J Robin Hughes for bringing the story of the Athol Hotel to the fore and thanks to Sheffield Newspapers for printing such a large article. His research has uncovered many things about this historic building which I, and no doubt many others, were totally unaware of and it is vital that it is now looked upon in a new light. Whilst it is not of the architectural quality of the ‘Pepperpot’ its history is of far greater importance and it would be a tragedy if it was lost forever and replaced with the usual bland block.

The Athol’s early links with the Sheffield Football Association are not to be sneezed at and in 1884 the Sheffield Cricket Association was also founded there. The Sheffield and District Football League was formed there in 1889 and was one of the earliest football leagues to be formed after the creation of the National Football League in the previous year. The building was also the local headquarters of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry Regimental Association.

There is an awful lot of money sloshing around in the football world and here is an opportunity for someone to come forward and save the building, pay for its restoration to Victorian splendour after the 1920’s cladding has been removed and fit the blue plaque which it so richly deserves. Looking at early photographs the ground floor would convert to magnificent shops and the cavernous upper floors which used to contain a large concert room, which later became a 120-seater restaurant, would convert admirably to much sought after period apartments. Why knock it down?

It has always baffled me why Sheffield has never made more of its early connections to the ‘beautiful game’. For various reasons you could almost say that the whole thing kicked off here (pardon the pun) and any other Council would have milked it for all it was worth.

We once attempted to put the city on the map with the National Centre for Popular Music which was an unmitigated disaster so let’s try it again on the football theme. The Old Town Hall on Waingate is just crying out for a use which would regenerate the area and guarantee to bring in the visitors.

How about it?

Howard Greaves, Chairman

Hallamshire Historic Buildings

Square outdated and lacks pulling power

I've seen the plans for the redevelopment of the city and I'm surprised that the council have no plans for an indoor shopping centre/arcade within the city centre. Other cities have smaller versions of Meadowhall within their city centres ie Arndale Shopping centre in Nottingham, which helps to attract people into the city centre when the weather is bad. 

Is now the right time to redevelop Orchard Square and add a few extra levels under cover? At present is outdated and lacks pulling power.....Time for a change.

Peter Nelson 

Firth Park Sheffield 

 "Men and women" rather than gentlemen!

I have attended a number of events in the city organised under the "Off the Shelf" banner over the last few days. I have found them to be both enjoyable as well as surprising. The guest speakers I heard all had books to promote, which they did. However they spent more time giving out their life stories, both public and private. This was very useful in that the audience was able to see behind the masks that most of us tend to live behind. What was particularly noteworthy was that many of the guests did use what I would have to call bad language regularly during their talks. As this is a literary festival I did find this to be rather out of place. Similarly when what could be termed difficult questions were posed by some members of the audience, these were met by murmurs of annoyance by"fans". This gives rise to the question of whether such gatherings are solely for supporters of the invited guests to massage the egos of the stars, or are they-as I believe-a forum for debate. My favourite talk was given by crime writer Val Mcdermid who gave an enthralling account of how she has perfected her craft. I will be attending future literary festivals, but could I quote the words of the late football manager Brian Clough who erected a sign at his ground that said "Gentlemen, No Swearing Please". Of course these days I would obviously need to alter the wording to "men and women" rather than gentlemen!

Andrew Stafford

Sheffield, S11

Common sense and the council climbs down

How much can change in just 48 hours? On October 17 your sister paper reports Sally and Brian Williams have been ordered to remove the amazing roadside flower beds they planted 28 years ago adjacent to Hollin House Lane, Loxley. This is down to Sheffield Council’s inflexible interpretation of the Highways Act 1980. Two days later, after a massive viral campaign seeking common sense, the council climbs down and Cllr Jack Scott is pictured holding a flowering plant at their house.

In August 2012 the council signs the Streets Ahead contract with Amey. A massive, global, viral campaign builds when it becomes clear that healthy street trees are being felled to meet targets in a taxpayer funded, public service contract the public aren’t allowed to see. Sheffield Tree Action Groups negotiators are backed by an ever increasing number of experts and have unwavering public support. When are we going to see the cabinet member responsible, Lewis Dagnall, next to a protected Vernon Oak with felling targets banished and a council commitment to valuing and maintaining street trees? 

Peter Garbutt

Sheffield Green Party