Sheffield neighbourhood 'has reached its lowest point' says MP who represents area

A Sheffield neighbourhood blighted by anti-social behaviour, fly-tipping and violence has reached its lowest point, the MP who represents the area has admitted.

Tuesday, 28th July 2020, 3:31 pm
Updated Tuesday, 28th July 2020, 3:32 pm

Gill Furniss, Labour MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough, made the admission after the latest incidents in Page Hall last weekend, which saw people fighting in the street using weapons including wood.

It was the latest chapter in the story of an area beset by poverty, crime and community tensions.

Ms Furniss said: “It’s very disturbing [videos of residents fighting]. It’s not completely in character with the area.

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Gill Furniss MP.

"It’s fair to say the police are taking this very seriously. I really would like to appeal to people to come forward and speak to the police about it, particularly someone who was filming it at the time.”

Two men were arrested on suspicion of affray following a disturbance on Popple Street on Sunday night and police patrols have since stepped up in the neighbourhood.

Ms Furniss has also written to Sheffield City Council leader Julie Dore, with South Yorkshire police and crime commissioner Dr Alan Billings copied in, to ask what the Council is doing about the issue with a view to meeting to discuss the problem.

She added: “The Slovakian Roma population is very transient so the problem you have is you can educate some and then they tend to move back or move away. If this was easy to solve we would have done it by now.”

At least two street brawls took place in Page Hall over the weekend.

On Tuesday The Star was contacted by a resident who complained of children walking barefoot and naked in the street as well as gangs of teenagers smoking drugs outside school premises.

Ms Furniss said: "Lots of claims are made but when the police investigate it’s not been corroborated. I am sure there are some things that are going on down there.”

“It’s the lowest I’ve seen it, definitely. I lived in the area until a few years ago.

She added: "I know some of the population are getting frustrated by it and I can completely understand that. The police can only respond to incidents, they can’t be there 24 hours a day and neither would we want them to be because you are turning it into a police state.”

Ms Furniss said the authorities will continue to ‘do their best’ to tackle the issues within the community, but efforts have been hampered by austerity.

She said: "Unfortunately, the fact Government has cut the council budget by half and the police budget by very much the same doesn’t help. We used to have community cohesion funding.

"Resources are scarce, you can’t put in what you used to put in. You just can’t do the same.”

She added: “I have been reassured that the police are doing whatever they can and I will be hoping to meet very soon with council officers and the police to discuss this issue.”