Today’s Star columnist, David Blunkett: Call to action for Sheffielders

David Blunkett
David Blunkett
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With 60 per cent of the austerity measures still to come under the coalition Government’s programme, there are very many people in Sheffield who have yet to feel the worst of the cutbacks in public services.

But it is also the physical state of the city that is suffering, the ability to be able to afford to clean up the mess other people leave – to remove graffiti, clear up litter and enforce reasonable standards by those owning derelict buildings.

Some friends returning from France commented on the city’s deterioration over the past year, with boarded-up buildings, unkempt public spaces and little sign of the upturn clearly evident in the south of England.

Of course this matters but not as much as the unseen damage to individuals who are often “out of sight and out of mind”.

Once thing is certain, there is no point in just whingeing. Sheffield has a proud record of pulling together, working together and looking for solutions.

This must surely be the moment for those with at least some influence over events to take a lead.

Given that almost a third of the city council’s budget has been cut by central government, this cannot be a task for local government alone. The Chamber of Commerce and those larger businesses that are flourishing, the two universities, colleges and the health service together with housing associations, faith groups, and of course voluntary and community organisations, all have a critical role to play.

The Fairness Commission which drew together all those of good will, laid out challenges for a more equal Sheffield, and have challenged all of us to sign up to making such changes a reality. Sheffield launched the our fair city campaign in January of this year, and the www.ourfaircity.co.uk website gives everyone a chance to contribute.

I hope that this newspaper together with the civic leaders of the city, will take on this challenge.

Never more than now other than during the Blitz has Sheffield needed that clarity of purpose, that gritty strength and determination to work together and to help each other.

So whatever the result of the General Election, the spirit of Sheffield’s past needs to carry us forward to helping each other through the difficult times ahead.