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Cheap shot at councils

It isn’t very often this newspaper will come to the defence of the city council over its car parking policy. But it is being unduly attacked by Government Minister Eric Pickles who should really look to his own policies before firing cheap shots at councils. Mr Pickles has accused the likes of Sheffield Council of operating a car-hating policy, over-charging for parking which is having a devastating effect on the high street and driving shoppers to buy online. In a way, he is right. Car parking is being treated as a revenue stream, operating as an additional tax on the motorist, with councils seeing fees as easy pickings to plug holes in their coffers. However, it is pretty rich for Mr Pickles to have a go at councils and laying the blame for retail demise at their hands when their budgets are being squeezed hard. If Mr Pickles was genuinely concerned about the malaise on our high streets, rather than firing off a headline-grabbing salvo, maybe he should look at what he could do. For instance business rates which every retailer has to pay, and complains are too high and a disincentive to trade are collected by councils on behalf of the Government. Reducing the amount of business rate, or varying the terms to encourage smaller traders, may well breathe new life into the high streets. So come on Mr Pickles, put your money where your mouth is.

Cancer can be reduced

More than four in every 10 cases of cancer could be prevented by changes to lifestyles. A sobering thought when Sheffield has just been diagnosed as having one of the highest mortality rates from cancer in the country. Of course, there are reasons. We are an industrial city, its residents are more prone to unhealthy diets for economic reasons and more people smoke. The message is clear, though. We could do more to prevent cancer. And should we have symptons, the earlier we seek help the better chance of survival – one of the best in the country. Make the change for the better.