This letter sent to the Star was written by Eamonn Ward, Hillsborough Green Party, (S6)
Sheffield Wednesday fans have shown their anger about the impact of match day policing changes that now close Leppings Lane to home supporters, seen by many as a sledgehammer to crack a nut. Local residents are suffering too. I live on a side road off Leppings Lane and the key issue is being able to come and go in your car and parking when you return. We broadly knew the timings, routines, stewarding and road closures we needed to work our lives around on match days last season. Not this season.
The police and Wednesday have continued to argue amongst themselves while overlooking the need to communicate with local residents. The situation on the ground has not been helped by the club changing their traffic management company to Event Support Management from Coventry, who are bussing most stewards up from the Midlands.
Residents lost patience after the 21 coach Everton evening game in September. Since then I and others have been encouraged by Wednesday’s Operations Manager’s recognition that local residents have been overlooked and uninformed. I have seen a willingness to engage with those who have contacted the club while seeking, and looking to act on, local knowledge and advice. As I write this, the club were due to do a local residents leaflet drop to provide information ahead of the dreaded Leeds match on October 26.
But it feels like we are back at square one or worse. The impenetrable legal language of the Traffic Regulation Order letter we just received from the council made people believe they will now be prisoners in their own homes on match days. A day later came the announcement of the Leeds match tram suspensions. No alternative travel options were offered or any reassurance about how communities will be protected and policed as fans now mingle on their way to and from the match.
Two massive own goals here in a complete failure by authorities to even recognise that there are hearts and minds that need to be won over. Many local residents are also supporters but worry what will happen if Wednesday get into the Premier League with 32,000 strong crowds. Lessons need to be learned quickly from this communication fiasco, supporters and local residents need to be listened to.