Letter of complaint to council about Sheffield city centre sparks debate

A letter of complaint to the city council by a disappointed visitor to Sheffield has sparked a debate among readers of The Star.
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Stacy Kitchen, from Colchester, was so deflated by what she found on a trip to the Steel City she was compelled to write to the council, its bosses and it’s planning department in a letter she shared online.

“I was shocked and saddened to witness the destruction of the once thriving and busy city centre,” wrote Stacy, who said it was her first visit to Sheffield in years and was in town for a funeral.

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She went on to decry the lack of “important branded stores and the many independent shops”, and felt a focus on students had left “nothing” for “the ordinary tax paying public of Sheffield”.

Fargate in Sheffield city centre (Photo: Dean Atkins)Fargate in Sheffield city centre (Photo: Dean Atkins)
Fargate in Sheffield city centre (Photo: Dean Atkins)

When The Star published the letter, its readers weighed in on the scathing verdict.

One supporter, Adrian Finney – who runs a guided ‘Ghost Walk’ tour of the city – said: “I think I’ve a slightly different perspective to most here. Every Friday I have people telling me that they’ve not been to the city centre in decades and they’re surprised by how much has changed, by how many new buildings are going up, and how much investment is going on.

“We can’t keep living in the past. What’s gone is gone. But we need to be in a mindset where we embrace the future rather than try and live in a very rose tinted past.”

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Another supporter, Ian Smith, wrote: “It was quite a visit to miss the theatres, art gallery and Millennium galleries, the cathedrals; not to eat at some superb restaurants or stop for drink at characterful pubs and bars. It’s also quite hard to buck the trend of cities across the land who have had major stores and smaller ones close because of the economic climate.”

Others were much more critical of the city council. Many pointed to neighbours like Manchester, Nottingham and Leeds as ‘proper’ and ‘thriving’ cities. Rita Emson wrote: “If this is how visitors to Sheffield feel then there is no hope for our city centre now or in the future regardless of how much many they waste on futile gimmicky attractions.”

In the same vein, Kobe Ans wrote: “No artistic or historical allegiance. It just seems that everything is thrown in with hope that somehow a spark will be ignited and it will work. The best parts of the city are not in the centre.”Paula Rockwood, however, wrote: “Why is nobody blaming the Tory government who have reduced funds to the council and cut back on things like social care? It means that the council has to spend more on this due to our citizens going in to poverty and needing help thanks to central government.

“Despite this there is a lot of redevelopment and construction going on in Sheffield. Look at the number of cranes in the centre. The relocation of the market to the moor has brought life back to the area and it's much busier now. It's too easy to blame the council.”

“It’s never been the same since they got rid of ‘ole in road’,” wrote Jayne Bennett.