Community in Focus: Manor is on the up after MP's 'worst estate in Britain' comments

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It’s a sprawling estate which some say has an unfair reputation from what it once was.

Built in the 1920s, at the time the Manor was said to be all that was new and innovative about town planning. At its peak, the area housed 11,000 people. But after years of decline, by the mid-1980s, it became the centre of one of the biggest council housing regeneration schemes in Britain.

Jordan Kelly with Leeanne Chapman and Toni Dearnley of D'Lites sandwich shop

Jordan Kelly with Leeanne Chapman and Toni Dearnley of D'Lites sandwich shop

As unemployment grew in the city on the back of the crippling collapse of heavy industry, MP Roy Hattersley branded Manor ‘the worst estate in Britain’ in 1995 after an arson attack destroyed a school.

Earlier this year people reacted angrily after a reporter at The Sun newspaper repeated the MP’s comment in response to former Prime Minister David Cameron’s announcement to bulldoze ‘sink estates’.

Bosses at the national newspaper said the journalist who wrote the story used quotes from a story in The Daily Mirror from 2007 and old pictures depicting the area as derelict and unsafe.

The headline also falsely claimed the reporter had visited the estate.

Stock picture.

Stock picture.

Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield, who represents the area in Westminster, complained about the story and said the people who live and work in Manor ‘completely reject’ the image portrayed in the article.

He said: “It’s a great community with lots happening. There’s real energy and vitality in the area. The launch of the summer festival this year adds to a huge range of community-led activities co-ordinated by the Manor and Castle Development Trust.

“There are really good local schools and lots of new housing. On top of all that, Manor Fields is one of the best areas of green space in the city.”

More than 20 years since Mr Hattersley’s comments, investment has been ploughed into the area from the public and private sector and many hope there’s a renewed confidence.

'Rasta John' spoke to The Star in D'Lites sandwich shop on Manor Top

'Rasta John' spoke to The Star in D'Lites sandwich shop on Manor Top

Supermarket Lidl has undertaken an ambitious expansion project, while Gleeson Homes are set to move in to start construction on 111 new homes.

Sheffield Council has also pledged to spend a chunk of £240,000 to spruce up tired-looking shop fronts free of charge for businesses at Manor Top.

Council chiefs identified the area as a shopping district that faces ‘major challenges’, and highlighted the importance of improving the appearance of the streets.

One of the businesses that could benefit is Manor Top Fish bar.

Andrew Macdougall of Manor Top Fish Bar

Andrew Macdougall of Manor Top Fish Bar

Andrew Macdougall, aged 55, has worked at the chippy for over 33 years and welcomed the new funding.

“It will do so much for the appearance of the area. It’s got to be a good thing.

“People from outside call it rough, but I think the Manor is improving.

“We’ve had loyal customers on the estate for years and they’re always very friendly.”

Jordan Kelly is Manor born and bred. The 30-year-old, who lives on Queen Mary Road and runs D’Lites sandwich shop at Manor Top with workers Toni Dearnley and Leeanne Chapman. Jordan said there is still room for improvement.

“I think the area has improved from what it used to be like but it could be better,” he said.

Businesses along Manor Top are set to benefit from a slice of 240,000 to improve the appearance of shop fronts

Businesses along Manor Top are set to benefit from a slice of 240,000 to improve the appearance of shop fronts

“There’s a bit of a community feel. I could rely on people off Queen Mary to help me if I needed it. People do still look out for each other.

“People who don’t live here look in from the outside and say it’s rough. It used to be like that and there’s still trouble, like most places, but it’s calmed down a lot.”

Another resident, who goes by the name Rasta John, moved on to Manor in 1995, and said the estate had a poor reputation then.

The 46-year-old said: “When I first moved on here it was horrible. I suffered racism and all sorts of stuff but you don’t get that anymore. This generation are a lot more understanding of people from different backgrounds.

“The area is better than it was but there’s still problems. The young kids knocking about don’t have much to do. They need inspiration and apart from the boxing gym which does good things for the kids there isn’t much for them.”

He added: “I do think the Government has forgotten areas like the Manor.

“It needs investment in the young people. The old youth clubs need to come back and they should staff them with people who care about the place because there are people who do.”

And Mick Cooper, who lives on Prince of Wales Road, said the area’s fortunes were on the rise.

“I think there’s a lot of good people on the estate. I do think it’s got an unfair reputation – from what went on before to some degree. The national media always used to seem to pick up on what went on here.

“I’ve lived here for many years and the people are friendly.

“People might say it’s got a bad reputation but it’s seen lots of change for the better since the mid-80s.”

Manor Castle ward councillor Pat Midgley said she was ‘very proud to represent the area’.

“The people here have been very fair to me,” said Coun Midgley.

“I think the area has changed beyond recognition in the last 15 years or so. We’ve got new schools and housing plans in the pipeline which will boost the area as a whole.

“Losing Tesco at Manor Top was a blow, and the area itself is looking tired and in need of improvements, but I’m glad we can put some money in to improve shop fronts along the road.

“It’s definitely not the worst estate in Britain.

“I completely disagreed with what Roy Hattersley said at the time and definitely wouldn’t think that now.

“We have our patches of anti-social behaviour and it’s been hard with the cuts to youth services.

“There’s a lot of good work the Manor and Castle Development Trust do, and lots of people who selflessly give up their time to help the community.”

Businesses along Manor Top are set to benefit from a slice of 240,000 to improve the appearance of shop fronts

Businesses along Manor Top are set to benefit from a slice of 240,000 to improve the appearance of shop fronts