Take Two with Colin Drury

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There’s a saying among old journalists that there is no such thing as a new story; there are only old ones retold with different people in different times under different circumstances.

To wit: the ongoing crisis that is retail in Sheffield city centre.

For years now this newspaper has reported that shopper numbers are falling, that businesses are struggling and that development is stalling.

And for years too it has also reported that there are always some plans or some strategies or some council initiatives in place which will finally reverse the trend and revitalise S1.

There was Sevenstone, of course. And then when that fell through we were told a big bang approach would kickstart development. And now that seems to have gone quiet - less a bang, more a whimper - there is the all new Retail Plan, 2015-19.

City leaders told The Star last week that this latest idea will find uses for empty shops (and there are plenty of them), lower business rates (“where possible”) and “restore Sheffield to its rightful position in the UK ranking” (whatever that means). What they didn’t offer was any practical suggestions of how any of these might happen.

Because such words only ever seem to lead to false dawns and broken ideas, don’t they? The new Moor Market is a magnificent building but there is already a suggestion its limited hours and costly rents mean it is being under-used, while the Castlegate area is simultaneously looking more run-down every passing day.

There is much that can be done to turn cities round. But there precisely lies the key, does it not? In the Doing. Not in the constant Talking. Councillor must surely acknowledge as much.

This writer joined The Star in September 2010 and will leave four years on in September 2014. What an indictment that Sheffield city centre has largely failed to improve in that time.