Today’s front page story will horrify, but not surprise, most of us. We want and we need town to be better. At the most basic, it must be a safe place to visit. If the authorities want to tell us that it is safe, at least compared to other big cities, then they have to do more to make us believe it.
Perception is all important and action is needed.
I get complaints every time we print a story that is ‘negative’ about the city centre … not from readers I hasten to add but from those who are paid lots of money to revive it. It is as if they live in a bubble surrounded by people who don’t mix with others who might have opposing views and it is very damaging.
So when the inevitable accusations come that The Star does not stick up for its own city, I have this response. Blindly saying the city centre is great will do nothing to help it. Quite the opposite, it makes your average Sheffielder more sure than ever that those in leadership positions or those who are designing its future are massively out of touch.
It is all very well developers and town planners saying that local media should do more to promote town but when our reporters hunt for people willing to stick up for it, they are few and far between.
So, here’s the challenge. Let’s hear from those who believe the future of the city centre is bright and give us positive views to publish. More importantly, let’s see those with influence pulling together to make one complete plan, force police and the council to make Sheffielders feel safe in their own city centre and do more than moan about it. That is the only way to ‘change the narrative’.
I am optimistic that things will improve over the next three years in town, but that is an awfully long wait for a city on hold for decades. Personally, I love Barkers Pool, delight at the Peace Gardens, adore the market and find something new to like every time I go into town. Most of all I can’t wait to step inside Leah’s Yard and see that incredible transformation. But Sheffielders won’t be convinced with words alone and why should they?