2020 – The Year That Never Was…..

As we enter the final few days of the year, it is hard not to think back to the dawn of a new decade and all the hopes, plans and aspirations that come with the New Year. I don’t think any of us could imagine how quickly the world would be turned upside down to deliver changes and heartache not experienced for over 75 years. So many people have suffered the loss of family and friends, difficult at the best of times but more so when isolation and lockdown denied the opportunity to be at the bedside of loved ones, frightened and in alien surroundings of visors, gowns, and gloves; to be denied the opportunity to be with family to offer comfort and support or share precious memories; and so many people unable to pay their respects and grieve with restrictions on funerals and gatherings.
There’s been cancelled holidays, festivals, events, sports; restrictions on meeting family and friends, and all travel curtailed except for essential journeys. Grandparents unable to see grandchildren, parents their children, partners forced apart and friends isolated. We emerged from the first lockdown, keen to rediscover our previous freedoms that we so easily took for granted – meeting friends, joining in team sports, eating out – but all in new and slightly uncomfortable environments. And then the infections started to increase, and restrictions returned, rising through the tiers, and culminating in a second national lockdown. Hopes were raised for families to meet up at Christmas and enjoy a respite from the restrictions, only to be dashed as the virus once again spread across communities. Even now, the days ahead are not clear with the shadow of rising infection rates and busy hospitals hanging heavily around us.
But throughout the year, beacons of light have been shining in the dark. Communities have been reborn, with volunteers stepping in to help near neighbours and those further afield. Support groups started up, looking after those shielding or on their own. Great stories of the little things being done that are making huge differences.
We’ve adapted and learnt new skills. Thousands working from home were considered the lucky ones, others not so lucky facing cuts to income or even loss of jobs. Prior to March, if you spoke of Zoom to anyone over 50, chances are they’d think off the Fat Larry’s Band hit of the 80’s rather than the video conferencing to which we’ve all become so adept. It’s not just businesses but families and friends using Zoom to keep in touch. Zooming has become so quickly accepted that the new standard Zoom meeting starts with the inevitable “Hello! Can you hear me or am I muted?” and saying goodbye becomes like the ending of an episode of The Walton’s!
The daily exercise became ever more important in relieving the tensions of staying at home, with discoveries of the wonders that lay within your neighbourhood. I live in Frecheville and for several years, residents have enjoyed the sight of a pair of Swans raising their young on the pond. This year, due to the lockdown, many more people have become aware of the swans and social media has been full of pictures of them, on and around the pond, even walking through the surrounding streets taking the eight cygnets for tour of the neighbourhood. Across the city, people passing in the streets or the fields have stopped to have a chat, obviously observing the new norm of social distancing. Neighbours are gathering for daily workouts on the traffic free roads, singers are entertaining with impromptu kerbside performances, fund raising has taken on local actions but with national support. Footpaths that seldom saw more than a dozen or so people walking across them in a week have become well-trodden routes linking newly discovered green and open spaces. Wildlife and nature have prospered with the reduction in traffic, air quality has improved, and we have all recognised that it’s possible to get about on foot or by bike. Deer spotted in the city centre, badgers and foxes more visible in the daylight, with bird song louder and sweeter in our back gardens: all signs of how nature has adapted to the change in circumstances.
And will we ever forget the way the whole country came together to thank the NHS and other key workers? That first night when we clapped and cheered just after sunset, the sky suddenly awash with fireworks! As the weeks progressed, the volume of clapping, whistles, cheers, horns and pan rattling increased, the sun appeared a little higher in the sky each week and the dwindling fireworks replaced with flocks of birds raised from their roosting by the sudden noise.
We are living through a period of our history that will be studied in schools for years to come, and there will no doubt be the questions raised by children in the future: “ Grandpa, what did you do during the Covid-19 lockdown?” Indeed, it is already become part of everyday life, raising questions among children. After the first few weeks in lockdown, my 5-year-old granddaughter asked her dad “Did you have a virus (lockdown) when you were little?”.
We’ve seen fundamental changes in all aspects of our lives and been presented with a chance to rethink what we do, raising questions around the when, the how and the where. It’s almost like someone has pressed the reset button and we are now in Life Version 2.0.
Sheffield has always been viewed as the country’s biggest village and we must make sure that our communities continue to enjoy the newfound feeling of belonging and identity developed over the last eight months. Neighbourhood groups that have grown up through necessity need to be helped to make that step change to formally constituted groups. Community spirt arising from helping with shopping or collecting prescriptions, from social calls to check on health and wellbeing, the daily exercise sessions, socially distanced VE street parties, Neighbourhood WhatsApp groups and quizzes – all have presented the opportunity for people to start talking to their neighbours and develop their community.
We, as a City, can stand proud of our achievements of the past and it has long been said that our resolve and determination has been forged in steel. Although local politicians across all parties will have differing views on how limited resources should be allocated, I am sure we are united in wanting the absolute best for Sheffield’s constituent communities. So, in this new world that we now find ourselves in, it is time to look to the future. Businesses will be changing how they do things, the council needs to review how we deliver services, we need to look at what we all want for our communities. We will not be forgiven if we waste this chance to build on the changes brought about through necessity – let us all get behind developing the absolute best opportunities for our communities!

Birley Pre School

 

 

 

Birley Community Pre-school have recently moved in to their new premises within the St Cyprian’s Church Hall on Birchvale Road and local Birley Councillors Bryan Lodge, Denise Fox and Karen McGown were invited for a look around. The church hall has had a fantastic makeover and the architects working for St Cyprians have created a great facility that houses the pre-school along with flexible spaces for worship and community use. Sharon Hopkinson, Manager & Senior Early Years Practitioner, along with Jayne Humphreys, Deputy Manager & SEN Co-ordinator are rightly proud of the amazing new setting. Along with parents and volunteers from the Church, they have worked hard to give the outside of the building and grounds a makeover and match the stunning interior.

The Birley Councillors have been pleased to support the Pre-School in recent years, especially over the last year as they worked to finalise new premises. “We’re proud that we have such a great facility for families within Birley” said Cllr Bryan Lodge “and we’re happy that we’ve managed to identify some funding for a wooden building in the grounds that can be used as an addition space for teaching and activities”.

New War Memorial For Frecheville

Bill CarlinBill Carlin, a resident of Frecheville is seeking support to build a new war memorial in Frecheville. Below is information that Bill has supplied regarding his appeal.

 

Frecheville – Memorial Appeal

I have been a Frecheville Lad all my life, and having served in the RAF in the Second World War I was proud to have known many servicemen who returned from the onslaught of many battles and events between 1939 and 1945. It was an honour to have served along with them and many people from Frecheville at that time were rightly proud of the commitment they gave. Next year of course will see the 100th year of commemorations of the start of the War to End All Wars and in 2015 it will be 70 years since the end of the sequel to that event World War two.  Every year at Armistice I have attended parades and the war time members are getting fewer and fewer.

Some of them of course did not return having paid the ultimate price for our freedom. Frecheville was no different and The People of Frecheville erected a small but meaningful monument to 19 young men who made the ultimate Sacrifice which is tucked away in the Frecheville Community Centre. Out of site to most but never the less erected with pride in order that they were not forgotten.

Sadly that small tribute to their bravery seems lost to those of us that still remember them, and I wonder if the people of Frecheville today know who they were, of the price they paid or the fact that there is a memorial. I would dearly love to erect another replacement monument outside the centre near the trees that still grow in their name leading to the centre.

I would love to make contact with the families of those 19 service men to let them know, they are not forgotten. When I have drummed up the support and the necessary permissions I would like to raise a small but perhaps more appropriate monument bearing their names at the back of the centre and overlooking Frecheville pond.

If you are a relative of these brave men shown below please get in touch with me and maybe when it is unveiled the families can be there to honour the promise made. Surmounted by a wreath, the monument reads:-

In Grateful and honoured memory of

The following men who gave their lives in the 2nd World War from the Frecheville Estate

J Ashford                                           J C Harrold                                       C Pratt

D H Beresford                                   W A Harrison                                    H Rastrick

R J Booker                                         G R Hargate                                      C A Sugden

L A Cook                                           S Head                                                G R Turner

P Cowlishaw                                      R Knott                                              E Vickers

C Haynes                                            A E Letch                                           S Watson                                                                  A P Manning

 

 

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning

WE WILL REMEMBER THEM

Contact Bill  Carline on 0114 2397796

Anyone wishing to make a donation towards the cost of the memorial can contact Bill.

Frecheville Trees of Remembrance

A poignat and moving service to re dedicate the Trees of Remembrance on Heathfield Road , Frecheville was attended by over a 100 people last Saturday (15/3/14) including veterans, cadets and members of the local community. Nineteen trees were planted in memory of the nineteen Frecheville servicemen who gave their lives during the Second World War and there used to be a small plaque at the base of each tree but these disappeared many years ago. Cllr Bryan Lodge has been investigating some form of replacement plaque for some time and is pleased to have now secured funding to do this. With the support of his fellow Birley Councillors, Cllrs Karen McGowan and Denise Fox, funding has been identified to produce and site an interpretation board close to the trees to explain why the trees were planted.  It is also hoped to replace three trees in due course as there are currently only sixteen trees remaining.“There’s a whole generation that’s grown up without any knowledge of the significance of the trees and now is an appropriate time to redress this. I remember the Royal British Legion organised a parade to St Cyprian’s Church and the laying of wreaths afterwards at the trees on Remembrance Sunday each year and I used to take part as a Scout, along with members of the Boys Brigade, Guides and Brownies, and many members of the local community.   Sadly the parades ceased some years ago as membership dwindled within the Royal British Legion.  I’m extremely pleased that we have secured the funding and have worked with officers of the Council and the local Veteran’s Association on the wording. It was great to see so many people there including ex servicemen and women, Cadets and pupils from Birley Community College”.

Cllr Fox, Lodge and McGowan with local resident and veteran Bill Carlin

This installation of the interpretation board also ties in with the proposals of local resident and veteran Bill Carlin, seen in the photo with Cllrs McGowan, Fox and Lodge,  for a new war memorial to be built within the boundaries of the Frecheville Park and Pond. “When we were looking at getting the board installed, we became aware of Bill’s aspiration and felt that this complemented his wish. It’s fitting that everyone passing by will now be aware of the significance of the trees, maybe calling to mind the sacrifice shown by local families”.Bill is well on the way to raise the funding needed for the new war memorial and it is hoped that work will enable the new memorial to be officially unveiled in the near future.

Congratulations Mike!

Mike DrabbleBirley Labour Party Chair, Mike Drabble, has been  successful in winning the Arbourthorne by election. Cllr Drabble fills the vacant seat on Sheffield City Council following the death last year of popular councillor, Cllr John Robson. John will be a hard act to follow but we’re sure that Mike is up to it.

Congratulations Mike!

Hackenthorpe Tenants and Community Association- a Clairification

Please see below a combined statement from the Birley Ward Councillors, Beighton Ward Councillors and Clive Betts MP providing in response to an article published in The Star.

In a recent Viewpoint published in ‘The Star’,  concerns were expressed around the suspension of the Hackenthorpe Tenants and Community Association (HTACA). The piece finished by making an inference that local councillors from Beighton and Birley wards, plus Clive Betts MP, appear to be disinterested due to there being no elections this year. Nothing could be further from the truth. The councillors and MP have been working with the association for many years but have been more closely involved recently as the problems surrounding the TACA’s operation have unfolded.

For clarity, a number of facts regarding the association need to be understood:  HTACA, covering a vast area that spans both Beighton and Birley Wards, has been in a state of turmoil for a number of years. Over two years ago, following changes to the committee and officers of the association, an Independent Auditor was asked to conduct a review of the association’s previous year’s accounts and identified some discrepancies that required further investigation. This highlighted additional areas of concern including items of expenditure of the association, the commissioning and awarding of works conducted in the gardens of the association’s office, and around individual expense claims. Further instances of fraud were uncovered and police proceedings followed. After a period in which the committee and officers tried to stabilise and rebuild the TACA, the Chair, Secretary, Treasurer and some other committee members took the decision to resign. They cited problems within the committee, expressing concern that some committee members were making it difficult to conduct the functions and operation of the association. They effectively closed the association, returning the keys of the TACA premises and transferring the balance of the accounts to Sheffield Homes to hold in trust. Due to the difficulties the association had experienced, and a number of outstanding issues that had still to be resolved, the Local Area Board of Sheffield Homes (now Council Housing Service) concluded that a full and frank investigation in to the association was the best way to resolve the issues and plot a way forward. This course of action received the backing and support of the local councillors, Clive Betts MP, the Cabinet Member for Homes and Neighbourhoods and his Cabinet Assistant. Consequently, a panel made up of independent tenants that include the former Chair of Sheffield Homes, plus Cllr Tony Damns, Cabinet Assistant, and the Council Housing Service Area Manager, is currently conducting the investigation. As this complex investigation is still ongoing, and until the investigation is completed, the association remains suspended and the Council Housing Service holds tenant’s levies.

This is a difficult time for the TACA and everyone involved in trying to resolve the matter. Whilst we recognise the frustration experienced by the ongoing suspension of the TACA, we are disappointed with a piece that attempts to paint a picture of disinterest and apathy.  We are united in our desire to ensure that a properly constituted and well-run organisation emerges from this process; an organisation that is fit for purpose and is focused on its members.

In the meantime, tenants and residents across the Hackenthorpe, Birley, Frecheville and Scowerdons estates continue to receive support and assistance from their elected councillors and MP through regular surgeries or by contacting them directly.

Cllr Helen Mirfin-Boukouris, Cllr Ian Saunders, Cllr Chris Rosling-Joseph
Members for Beighton ward

Cllr Karen Mcgowan, Cllr Denise Fox, Cllr Bryan Lodge
Members for Birley ward

Clive Betts MP
Sheffield South East

Summer Activites from Sheffield Futures.

The Sheffield Futures East Team have released details of activities planned during the school holidays. Details of events that may be of interest to young people within the Birley Ward include sessions at Hackenthorpe Community Centre, Four Wells Drive on Tuesday evenings between 6:30pm – 8:30pm. A number of special sessions are planned around internet safety, guns and knive crime and bike crime. Further details are available from

Sheffield Futures Community Youth Team Eastlogo_sheffieldFutures

Unit C7 Alison Business Centre

39/40 Alison Crescent

Sheffield

S2 1AS

Tel: 01142835927

 

TUC Austerity Uncovered Tour

thumbs_austerity-unconvered-dudleyThe TUC’s Austerity Uncovered Tour bus is visiting Sheffield on Saturday 22nd June and will be pulling up to talk to local people in Handsworth between 4pm -6pm. The tour will be calling at The Club at Holme Lea (the former Handsworth WMC) and will have members of the Shadow Cabinet alongside TUC Officials on board. The nationwide tour is gathering evidence to show that the Government’s  Austerity Programme isn’t working , but the measures are hurting. So come along and help inform the debate, present your evidence and help support the campaign to convince the Tories and Lib Dems that enough is enough. During the visit, the National Musicians Union are providing entertainment through the Amelia Carter Band who will also be performing in July at the Tramlines festival.

For further information, visit http://austerityuncovered.org/

Councillors Visit Rother Valley Church in Hackenthorpe

Cllr Bryan Lodge, Cllr Denise Fox, Chris Jeavons (Senior Pastor) and Cllr Karen McGowan outside Rother Valley Church on Spa View Road
Cllr Bryan Lodge, Cllr Denise Fox, Chris Jeavons (Senior Pastor) and Cllr Karen McGowan outside Rother Valley Church on Spa View Road

Birley Ward Cllrs Karen McGowan, Denise Fox and Bryan Lodge took up the invitation to visit the Rother Valley Church on Spa View Road in Hackenthorpe and see for themselves the various activities that take place there. Most people will be aware of the building but not necessarily the range of events that the church supports. In addition to the regular Sunday Worship, the church hosts Toddler Groups, ‘Messy Church’ -(activities for families), Youth events, Craft Days and Coffee mornings. The church also provides a Drop-In Centre with toasties and hot drinks. “It was an interesting visit where we really got a feel for how the church works within the community” commented Cllr Lodge. The invitation came from Chris Jeavons, Senior Pastor, who saw it as an opportunity to seek the Councillors views on their ambitions plans to become a focal point for the community.  “Chris explained their aspirations on providing a community cafe, along with improved facilities for children and young people” said Cllr Fox,”I was pleasantly surprised by what we heard”. The church has occupied the site for around 17 years and the range of facilities is surprising. Cllr McGowan said “I’ve been past the church so many times but have never been inside. It’s a lot bigger than it seems from the outside. Before we went into the building, Chris spoke of their plans to install a soft play area and I envisaged it to be of a medium size. Having seen inside, I think it’ll be big enough for adults to enjoy it, not just children!”.

Further information about the church and it’s activities can be found on their website:  www.rothervalleychurch.co.uk

Your Councillors are always happy to visit community groups, schools, churches, etc within the Birley ward. If you would like to visit you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch

Congratulations To Friends Of Charnock Recreation Ground!

Great news from the Friends group to say that they have been recognied for the work they have done with them being awarded The Queen’s Award For Voluntary Service and the citation reads ‘For developing a recreation ground for children and families in a previous run down area.’  Work has included new play equipment, new paths and landscaping, installation of gym equipment, improvements to the football pitch and the development of a natural play area. This award is eqivalent to an individual receiving an MBE.

We’d like to add our congratulations to the group and thank them for everything they’ve done for the community.

 

 

Streets Ahead Resurfacing Works

Streets-Ahead-diagram-beigeResidents of Birley Moor Road, Linley Lane and Hopefield Avenue are receiving letters regarding the next stage of the Streets Ahead project on their roads. New street lighting columns are currently being installed on Hopefield Avenue and Linley Lane following the introduction of the new, white light, columns on Birley Moor Road. Other works will follow to reinstate the verges and repair pavements.  Now Amey, the council’s partner for the project, are notifying of the proposed resurfacing works for the road and footpaths. The works are planned from Woodhouse Road in Intake, through to Mosborough and incorporating Hopefield Avenue and Linley Lane.

 

This work will take place from 3 June to 18 August 2013 and we will need
to close some of the roads to carry out the work. Diversion routes will be in
place where needed. Pedestrian access and access for emergency vehicles
will be available at all times. Temporary signs will be displayed in the area five days before work starts, confirming the start date and expected duration of the work. Parking and access to properties, On-street parking and access to properties will be restricted on the roads being worked on, during working hours. Most roads will be open and on-street parking as normal outside of these hours. (The temporary signs on each road will tell you when on-street parking is restricted or unavailable).
It is very important that you make alternative arrangements for parking whilst
Amey are carrying out these highway improvement works. If you need vehicle
access to your property then this will be accommodated by the on-site
supervisor. Please make the on-site team aware of your needs as soon as
possible, as there may be a short delay while this is organised. Please plan
ahead and leave extra time wherever possible.

Further information
Please see www.sheffield.gov.uk/streetsahead for further information about Streets Ahead and follow progress @sccstreetsahead on Twitter.
If you would like any further information or to discuss any issues, please
contact the project team on 0114 273 4567 or email streetsahead@sheffield.gov.uk.

 

20mph Zone For Charnock

Charnock 20mph zoneFormal consultation on the Charnock Estate 20mph zone begins this week with the distribution to all homes in the area of information about the proposals. Delivery will take place between the 15th – 17th May and asks for comments back to the council by 7th June. In addition to the proposed 20mph limit throughout the estate, measures to improve safety around the school are to be introduced with tougher controls on vehicles parking on the zig zag lines.

Look out for your copy of the leaflet coming through your door. If you have any comments or concerns, please feed these in to the consultation, through the details on the form.

Further information regarding 20mph zones can be found by clicking on the following link: https://www.sheffield.gov.uk/SCC-Home/roads/works/schemes/new-20-mph-speed-limits