Fear investigation into Market Tavern demolition could be ‘kicked into long grass’

An opposition councillor has raised an issue with Sheffield Council’s promised internal investigation into what happened to the Market Tavern which was demolished due to an “error”.
The iconic Market Tavern building in Sheffield city centre.The iconic Market Tavern building in Sheffield city centre.
The iconic Market Tavern building in Sheffield city centre.

Cllr Brian Holmshaw (Broomhill and Sharrow Vale, The Green Party) told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that the council’s position to hold an internal investigation “in due course” was not good enough.

He said he was concerned about the possibility that due to the upcoming local elections the public wouldn’t find out what really had happened to the iconic Market Tavern building.

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Cllr Holmshaw said: “What I am really concerned about is that this investigation drags on and on. Will we get the results before or after the local elections?

“It needs concluding well before the end of March so people can judge for themselves what went wrong, and not have this kicked into the long grass.”

The Local Democracy Reporting Service approached the council for a comment and was told the council hopes to have the internal investigation concluded before the pre-election period.

As it was revealed this week, the Market Tavern pub had not “spontaneously” fallen down by itself – as the council claimed – but was demolished, despite a promise made to heritage campaigners that works would halt until midday on January 10 so a second opinion could be sought.

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A post on the council’s website said: “Our initial belief was that the top turret on the building had collapsed under its own weight on the morning of January 10.

“New information has since come to light which shows the demolition company were instructed in error at 11:53am to continue with demolition.

“As a result of this order, our understanding is the turrets fell because of the recommenced demolition works.”

The council claimed that a mistake – an error – happened.

In a statement, Cllr Ben Miskell, chair of the Transport, Regeneration and Climate Committee, said an internal investigation would take place “in due course”.

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He said: “The demolition of the Market Tavern wasn’t a decision we took lightly, however, given the condition of the building I am advised we were left with no choice.

“As an organisation transparency is vital to us and we are sharing this update with our residents and stakeholders as soon as it has come to light.

“Throughout the process, I have been keen that partners are kept fully informed. I am disappointed that this does not appear to have been the case and people have been provided with inaccurate information.

“We will be writing to partners to apologise and will be launching an internal investigation to understand exactly what went wrong.

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The Market Tavern in Sheffield city centre first opened its gates in 1797 and was rebuilt a couple of times before the existing version in 1914 was finished.

The building (under the council’s ownership) has deteriorated over the last 15 years, and just before Christmas it was revealed that the council would remove it for good as they found the building “unsafe”.