Sheffield will reap rewards of weekend success as conference offers long-term boost

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SHEFFIELD will reap the rewards after a weekend of thriving in the international spotlight, city bosses insisted today.

The Steel City, and its eight-foot fence, was beamed onto television screens across the country as Nick Clegg faced tough questions from his party and the anger of 5,000 protesters.

Sheffield Council leader Paul Scriven said the local economy had received a massive boost - despite the fact city centre traders complained shoppers had stayed away.

“This has been a great weekend for Sheffield,” he said.

“Yes, some businesses have had a dip but for others it has broken all records.

“An extra £2.5m has been brought into the city, and the thousands of visitors who came here were impressed with what they saw.

“We have shown we are able to put on big events - we have shown Sheffield is open for business.”

Council chief executive John Mothersole added: “It is very difficult for us to bring a benefit to every single part of the Sheffield economy at the same time.

“Some retailers had a slow day, and we can learn from that for next time - but there was a boost for other parts of the economy.

“I wanted three things to come out of this. I wanted Sheffield to look good to the outside world, which it has. I wanted a boost for the economy - and despite a slow day for some retailers - we got that.

“And I wanted a few thousand delegates to go away thinking ‘I wouldn’t mind popping back to Sheffield one day’. I feel we achieved all those things.”

Ian Slater, chair of Hospitality Sheffield and general manager of the Park Inn hotel, said hotels were fully booked.

“What the general public perhaps don’t realise is that there is a lot of competition now to stage a major event like this,” he told The Star.

“When one of these comes up, every provincial city in the country competes to host it.

“A lot of work goes into bidding for event and then putting it on. There is not doubt it has brought a lot of money into the city.

“We have had great feed back from the delegates - many of whom commented how much the city centre had changed for the better.”

South Yorkshire Police bosses defended their decision to put up a controversial ‘ring of steel around the City Hall.

They said the fence helped defuse tensions between police and protesters, taking away the possibility of face-to-face antagonism which had sparked violence at demonstrations elsewhere in the country.

Chief Superintendent Simon Torr said: “We are very pleased with the fence. Because of it there was no chance for tensions to increase and boil over. People were able to bang on it as much as they wanted with no damage and no injuries,” he said.

Only one arrest was made during an operation South Yorkshire Police described as their biggest challenge since the 2007 floods.

Upwards of 1,000 officers policed the city centre, and additional forces were brought in from West Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Greater Manchester, Nottingham and Leicestershire.

Chief Supt Torr also rejected suggestions the police response was guilty of overkill, with officers called on from nine neighbouring forces.

“We prepared levels of response which were ready for several eventualities. We were able to keep our profile relatively low key, with no crash helmets or visors.

“It was much better to have things this way round than to suffer some of the experiences of cities in other parts of the country.”