BBC news published an article about a “millionaire’s £1bn plan to transform Sheffield”. The millionaire saw Sheffield “as a great opportunity for investment”, noting with surprise that we even lack a five-star hotel.
Sheffield does not lack much, but of its flaws (40,000 people in food poverty, 10-year life expectancy gap between the most and least deprived areas, 2,5000 children in poverty), the lack of five-star hotels is definitely the most urgent, and I have no doubt that people from all across Sheffield will be relieved to hear that our wealthy saviour will be treating us to one, complete with a ‘magnificent fountain’.
In seriousness, while investment into the city is not inherently bad, we should be cautious about celebrating the arrival of millionaires who see our cities (or countries) as gateways to profit rather than communities.
Sheffield has some of the most deprived wards in the UK, but millions of pounds of investment are unlikely to benefit the poorest and most vulnerable in our city.
Sheffield’s problems stem not from a lack of investment, but from a lack of political will and courage to fix them.
Greater equality is what Sheffield yearns for, not greater investment. The already huge inequalities in the distribution of money, healthcare, education and food in Sheffield look set to widen over the next four years.
These inequalities are unjust and unfair, and wholly preventable, though it’s going to take more than magnificent fountains and five-star hotels to do so.