Small firms fear the worst as Sheffield United hits the big time with Premier League promotion
and live on Freeview channel 276
Bosses on Harwood Street believe they are seen as a ‘nuisance’ for complaining about up to 20 buses blocking their little road on match days. And following United’s promotion they think it will only get worse.
The Blades went up last month after coming second in the Championship. Next season they will host giant teams including Manchester United, Liverpool and Manchester City, bringing millions to the club - and thousands of extra fans.
But there is no solution to the problem of buses parked nose-to-tail on both sides of the street, they say. And some fear it could put them out of business.
Sarah Kettle, of The Kettle Club gym, said a coach parked in front of her car park during the Preston match blocking a customer in. Stewards and safety officers were unable to help and in the end the police agreed the woman could exit by driving up the pavement.
Sarah added: “It seems the safety officer thought this was safer than letting a coach move briefly. I get the impression we were seen as nuisances again.”
Bosses are also concerned about a lack of access for emergency services and air pollution, with coaches starting engines up to an hour before they leave, Sarah said.
She added: “I don’t understand why our safety is not considered as important as fans attending the match.”
Other firms on Harwood Street that are affected include Blue Collar Club Tattoos, Cathy's Creative sewing classes, G&L Printers, One Stop Motorist Centre and DJ Green antiques storage.
Last month, Councillor Mazher Iqbal, chairman of the transport, regeneration and climate policy committee at Sheffield City Council, said he would meet business owners. But Sarah said she had not yet heard from him.
Sabia Hanif, parking services manager, said: “Sheffield City Council is responsible for issuing the road closure notice that allows the club to close the road on match days. The parking of the coaches is overseen and managed by Sheffield United and the Transport Management Company who the club employ to operate matchday traffic management operations. The council is in regular contact with the club and will raise the issue with Sheffield United and support the club to devise a plan that allows for coaches to be parked without disrupting local businesses.”
Andrew McQuillan of The Traffic Management Company did not respond to requests for comment.
But in email seen by The Star, Mr McQuillan said they were working with the city council’s highways department to look at ‘sterilising’ the road - closing it to public vehicles - so they could park coaches more flexibly.
A South Yorkshire Police spokeswoman said safety took priority.
She said: “We understand the frustrations expressed by the businesses along Harwood Street in relation to matchday parking. A number of decisions have to be made ahead of any fixture to ensure the safety of all those attending or visiting the stadium and those in the surrounding area. Extensive plans are drawn up and reviewed at the Safety Advisory Group, of which we are a partner. Safety has to remain the primary concern in every decision made.”
Sheffield United did not respond to The Star. But in February, in an email seen by The Star, the Blades’ Jim Goddard said they were working with the council to look at new measures.
He added: “You will see temporary signs going up to encourage compliant match day parking on the road. As we get more compliance we can stagger coaches, as you suggest. At the moment we are for a number of games having to thread coaches around existing vehicles and obstructions.”