Viewpoint: ‘Sheffield grit’ aids Christmas trade during road repairs

Neil Grant
Neil Grant
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Santa gets snowed under because of ‘Sheffield grit!’ Yes, that’s not due to grit for the roads, but the grit of Sheffield folk, writes Neil Grant, director of Ferndale Garden Centre at Coal Aston.

Earlier this month, Santa’s helpers here at Ferndale expressed great concerns about the disruption caused by the temporary closure of Meadowhead roundabout on Sundays in December.

After a weekend of heartbreak for small children, frustrated parents giving up on the promised trip and Santa left twiddling his thumbs, a crisis was avoided thanks to action by Sheffield City Council.

The closure of Meadowhead roundabout on Sundays in December was too much after an already difficult year.

The region’s garden centres are again all relying on the Christmas period to help recover lost ground from the record-breakingly awful spring; then to find a major route near the business is closed on the Sundays before Christmas was the last straw.

We know work has to be completed but why not do it in January or even October when both businesses, shoppers and Father Christmas aren’t under so much pressure?”

The warning signs advising of the closures appeared about 10 days before they started, not allowing much time to make alternative arrangements. Having said that, what preparation could we do?

Christmas products for all retailers are ordered in January and February and stock has been here since September; we can’t turn the tap on or off to suit each week.

On the first Sunday of closures, traffic on the diversion routes was so heavy many people turned away and we had to rely on our loyal customers the rest of the week.

Christmas trade keeps all garden experts busy and employed ready for spring when the gardening season starts in earnest.

From then on, the renowned ‘Sheffield grit’ showed itself and people battled away finding routes to get here.

As a result, Santa has been extra busy and we are going to need to negotiate a different contract with Santa’s representatives for next Christmas!

We do need our councils to recognise the importance of local business to the community. Our roads are in desperate need of repairs, but it has been a challenge in such an important month.

When customers shop with their local businesses, their support stays in the area and local people are employed.

Local businesses also have their community at heart, with many local needs being supported along the way. For example, at a recent event for Sheffield Royal Society for The Blind held at Ferndale Garden Centre, over £1,300 was raised.

To be fair to the road work teams, after the first difficult weekend, they seemed to make travel easier. Could this be in response to a letter in The Star (December 10) and did Councillor Bramall ‘encourage’ the teams to help us all out? I hope so. 01246 412763

Neil Grant is director of Ferndale Garden Centre at Coal Aston