Anger as cashflow crisis forces closure of forum

forumram'Wendy Wells, centre, of Hillsborough forum
forumram'Wendy Wells, centre, of Hillsborough forum
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QUESTIONS are being raised about why council chiefs failed to step in with funding to prevent a Sheffield community group from folding due to financial trouble.

Hillsborough Forum was set up in 2002 by residents and businesses and worked on projects ranging from creating a community garden to flood-prevention work and organising an initiative to promote local businesses.

But it has now closed after funding dried up.

Coun Diane Leek, Sheffield Council Liberal Democrat member for Walkley and a former chairman of the council’s central community assembly, which includes Hillsborough, said: “The fact the forum has folded is a blow. Its work will be missed.

“Other forums across Sheffield are continuing with their work, so there is no reason why the same couldn’t happen in Hillsborough if the council had stepped in to help. I’m surprised nothing has been done by the Labour politicians in charge.”

The forum’s demise provoked a mixed reaction from traders.

Julie Sheldon, of Buckles Bags, Hillsborough Arcade, said: “It’s a shame. The forum was trying hard to make improvements to the area.”

However, Nigel Pearson, of family-run Pearson’s Butchers, Middlewood Road, said: “The forum had good intentions, but we were crying out for increased trade and that has not happened.

“When we first set up here in the 1970s, you couldn’t move on the pavements outside because it was so busy. The big problem around here is parking, which has not been solved and has got worse.”

The forum – managed by Wendy Wells and based in Proctor Place, Hillsborough – said: “The company has a liquidity crisis the trustees are unable to solve. We are proud of our successes and thank everyone who has been a part of this project.”

The forum attempted to improve an area hit by falling trade for several decades, due to competition from supermarkets, disruption when Supertram was built and problems such as lack of parking.

Coun Bob Johnson, Labour member for Hillsborough and a former forum trustee said: “The assembly was providing grants to the forum, but it also depended on money from a range of other sources to cover its running costs. The assembly did all it could to keep it going.”