From the editor: 'Right time to take a stand on making city greener for all?''

What do we want our city centre to look like when we put these awful days of pandemic and lockdown behind us?

Friday, 11th September 2020, 11:06 am

There have been several debates raging on this subject but, as we all know, it is only action that really counts. I’m pretty fed-up of the arguments about what some see as progress and others see it as backwards. We need to pull together and make town better, full stop. Childish arguments don’t help anybody and it is Sheffield that suffers.

If you haven’t wandered around some of the quieter bits of town in recent months you probably won’t have noticed the greener areas that are cropping up. The scheme, very sensibly called ‘grey to green’, has literally transformed some of our ugliest corners into beauty spots. I love them.

I am sure that if we were designing a city centre from scratch, it would be filled with gorgeous places to relax and pretty areas that make you smile just to be there. We obviously aren’t doing that but there is no reason why we can’t make things a lot better.

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Blue skies over Sheffield.

Do we really want a city centre choked up with cars? Of course not, but we do want to be able to get in to shop with our families or go to work without suffering too much inconvenience.

Sadly, the alternative modes of transport to do that have been taken away from us over the years. It is decades since we had a tram system that covered more than just a fraction of the city, it is more expensive for a family to take the bus compared to having your car full and moves towards making it safer for cyclists have not been joined up enough to make a difference.

It looks like we are starting with the clean air – or congestion – charge. There is bound to be less pollution from cars when people are working at home and we know that many taxi drivers were concerned for their livelihoods, despite huge efforts from City Taxis to launch green initiatives. So, is now the time to postpone the charge because it isn’t needed or the time when we should get it in while it will have the least resistance? Can we adapt while living under restrictions and emerge in a better city? Will less cars make cafes thrive and could we find ourselves happily living in a place that is better for us all? I am eager to hear your thoughts ...