City divided by inequality

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IMAGINE boarding a bus in the south west of Sheffield and getting off in the north and during that time your life expectancy has reduced by eight years.

That is not a reflection on the quality of the bus ride or the length of the journey, but is a pictorial reflection of the social divide we have in our city.

Sheffield is one of the most divided cities in the UK in terms of wealth, health and equality of opportunities.

Almost every indicator of life shows areas in the north and east of the city poorer than in the south and west.

Historically, that was the case with many industrial cities, chiefly because of the prevailing wind directions which led to the wealthiest choosing to reside away from the smells and the smog generated by the factories they owned.

But it has remained that way, unlike other cities that undertook a type of social engineering to tackle inequality.

For the past six months a group of business leaders, council officials, sociology, health and charity leaders have been meeting as part of a Fairness and Equality Commission to look at what Sheffield needs to do to successfully tackle those divisions that blight people’s lives and place them at a disadvantage to others purely because of where they happen to live.

Sheffield Council set up the commission with the aim of acting on its recommendations and to start the social engineering that may result in a fairer city for us all to live in.

We do not know what those recommendations will be yet. But what we do know is that they will be far reaching, some will be easy to deliver and others will be enormously difficult.

To be successful they will demand a new way of living and earning in the city, and an appreciation that some may have to make significant changes to the way they do business, earn money, and pay people to bring about a more equitable society.

It is an ambitious challenge but one we hope the city will embrace for the benefit of all its citizens.

Get it sorted

WE learn with dismay that workers at Dump It sites are planning on reinstating their threat of industrial action – a move that could see the recycling facilities close.

The original dispute, between the union and operating company, about shortened opening times, job losses and cuts to working hours, has failed to be resolved.

Having witnessed the huge queues at the recycling sites, the council can ill-afford to allow this dispute to escalate, especially with the onset of fortnightly bin collections and the drive to encourage more recycling. This dispute needs resolving and quickly.