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Concern over lack of IKEA jobs in Sheffield for 'local' residents

IKEA in Sheffield
IKEA in Sheffield

Concerns have been raised over the lack of IKEA jobs awarded to residents who live closest to the superstore.

Sheffield Council figures reveal that just 6.2 per cent of IKEA jobs advertised over the last few months went to residents in the S9 postcode area, including Darnall and Tinsley.

Only 25.5 of the 412 new jobs created at the home furnishings store, near Meadowhall, went to jobseekers in the communities closest to the site.

On the store's opening day last week, IKEA stressed that 90 per cent of the jobs went to South Yorkshire residents, but Sheffield MP Clive Betts and the Darnall Forum have expressed disappointment at the number of local jobs for local people.

They claim that a fairer share of jobs for the communities closest to the store would have negated some of the disadvantages of having it so close to where they live, including traffic congestion and pollution.

The issue is to be discussed at Darnall Forum's AGM at Darnall Post Office at 6pm tonight (WEDNESDAY).

Before planning permission was granted, one of the considerations which swayed city planners to give it the green light was the economic impact the jobs would have on the 'deprived' areas of Tinsley and Darnall.

When planning consent was granted in 2014, Sheffield Council said: "Whilst the scheme is very finely balanced it is considered that in this instance, given the significant regeneration benefits for the city, the employment and training benefits for the deprived Tinsley and Darnall communities and the associated positive impacts on economic and social

equality, the balance overall is in favour of the proposal."

Neil Bishop, manager of the Darnall Forum, said: "We should like to know how local residents feel about this. Did they apply for a job with IKEA, or do you they know somebody who did? What was their experience? Does 30 jobs for the whole postcode area seem to people who live here 'like jobs have gone particularly to people in Darnall and Tinsley?'"

"There are some areas of Darnall and Tinsley where deprivation and household poverty is way above the national average. We hope that if there is any future employment at IKEA or when other new employers move to the city, greater effort will be made to recruit in communities most affected."

Sheffield MP Clive Betts said: "The job figure for Darnall and Tinsley is disappointing and what I would like to see in the future with other major developments like this is more help and training to ensure that local people can benefit from local jobs.

"These communities get the negative impacts of development, such as traffic and pollution, so it seems only right to me that they are offered help to benefit from the positives, such as the jobs they create."

An IKEA spokeswoman said: "IKEA prides itself on being a good neighbour. With each store that we build we will always work with the community and surrounding area to ensure that strong relationships are built for the long-term. This is reflected not only in our work supporting local charities, but also in our approach to recruiting as many co-workers as possible from the local area - as we are about creating a sense of community.

“In Sheffield we have created over 400 jobs and over 90 per cent of these positions have been filled by people from the local area of Sheffield and the South Yorkshire region. As part of our commitment to recruiting locally for these roles we engaged with jobs clubs in Darnall and Tinsley we held a series of workshops, jobs fairs and conducted a leaflet drop.

“We have made significant contributions improving public transport and in the road infrastructure which will not only benefit the store but the wider community.

“We worked closely with Sheffield City Council to meet all of the planning requirements, including around recruitment of local people and consulted the public in relation to our plans. We have received a warm welcome and positive feedback from local people and look forward to continuing to build on these relationships as a long-term neighbour.”

Councillor Mazher Iqbal, cabinet member for business and infrastructure at Sheffield City Council, said: “The opening of one of the country’s biggest-ever Ikea stores is great news for Sheffield, so far bringing more than 400 local, highly-valued jobs to the city.

“We always said that, if 10 per cent of those jobs went to people living in the S9 and S60 5 postcode areas, which includes Darnall, Tinsley and parts of Wincobank and Rotherham, then we would be very pleased. And this has been achieved.

“We worked with IKEA to stage job fairs at the Town Hall and at Meadowhall, and with the Darnall Forum which was part of our Ikea working group.

“IKEA is a store that serves not just the immediate community but the whole of Sheffield and region and we have worked closely with them to stage job fairs at the Town Hall and at Meadowhall with an emphasis on recruiting our local, talented people.

“Our retail offer is going from strength to strength and we will be working with the Forum and other groups in the future to make sure that local employment is boosted through the £300 million extension of Meadowhall.”