Fences go up as Clegg faces furious backlash from 10,000 protesters

Ring of steel around Sheffield City Hall.
Ring of steel around Sheffield City Hall.
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FENCING around City Hall is nearing completion as police revealed they are expecting up to 10,000 demonstrators to march through Sheffield during this weekend’s Liberal Democrat Spring Conference.

In a security operation costing around £1.5 million, hundreds of police officers will be on motorcycles, bikes, on horseback as well as on foot in the city centre for the main demonstration on Saturday.

There will also be a heavy police presence on Friday when a protest is staged during the afternoon and evening.

But shops in the Barker’s Pool area say it will be business as usual at the weekend - although businesses told The Star the situation is “under review” and could change if protests turn ugly.

The only business to close will be Barclays Bank, amid fears it could become a focal point of protesters due to the large bonus payments announced this week to its bosses.

Maura Zanin, manager of Multiyork furniture shop, in Barker’s Pool, said: “We are open the same as normal - it will be business as usual.”

Larger stores such as John Lewis and Mothercare are also planning to be open.

A Barclays Bank spokeswoman said: “We have been liaising closely with the police and other organisations around arrangements for the weekend and, as a result, our operations will be moving to the Arena Square branch for one Saturday only so that our customers can avoid any disruption in the city centre.

“The Pinstone Street branch will open as normal on Friday. However, we will be liaising closely with the police and taking advice should the city centre become very busy. The safety of our customers and colleagues is paramount and we will be deploying extra security where appropriate.”

Some businesses have complained about the size of the area being fenced off, which includes almost all of Barker’s Pool apart from a narrow walkway around the edge on the John Lewis side.

One Division Street shop owner was concerned the fence would deter shoppers.

He said: “If there are thousands of demonstrators no one is going to get up Fargate and Division Street. No one has contacted us to speak to the small businesses that are trying to make a living.”

Green Party Central ward Coun Jillian Creasy said: “We were told there would be high fencing at the back facing on to West Street but Barker’s Pool would have low barriers just used as markers.

“I’m really concerned about these fences. They look hideous.”