Staying focussed for young Sheffielders

August 10, 2009
Seeing so many young people this week makes me realise that we all have to stay focussed in giving our young Sheffielders the best future possible.

Broadfield Park – Play extravaganza

The opening of Broadfield Park in Sharrow.

The opening of Broadfield Park in Sharrow.

The excitement and buzz at the opening of Broadfield Park in the Sharrow area really was a fantastic and enjoyable experience.  A great crowd turned out to open the new play area which includes, swings, slides as well as a full court area for young adults where they can play cricket etc.

At the opening the young people were really excited, we all cut the ribbon together and basically had a great time.  Really good to see the local community turn out as well as community groups such as ACT being there – well done everybody.

Gleadless Valley Matters

I met with local Councillor, Denise Reaney, as well the housing officer and Councillor Bob McCann, Cabinet Member for Housing, to discuss a number of issues arising in Gleadless Valley.  We talked through a number of issues where we can try to help the community have an improved quality of life.  It is really important that no matter where people live in Sheffield, they are able to live in a green, safe and enjoyable environment.

Pomp and Circumstance

I was delighted to see so many Sheffielders in the Peace Gardens to listen to the free concert provided by the Kings Division Military Band.

Free concert in the Peace Gardens provided by the Kings Division Military Band

Free concert in the Peace Gardens provided by the Kings Division Military Band

This band plays for the Yorkshire Regiment who have the Freedom of the City.  Listening to the music made me realise how diverse a city we are, as well as how many of the young people within the Yorkshire Regiment come from Sheffield and South Yorkshire.

It was a wonderful evening, and I was delighted to act as host and welcome some returning soldiers from Iraq back to South Yorkshire.

Keeping Warm and Free

With the challenge of global warming and the recession, it was nice to go and visit a local resident in Walkley who had benefited from the Council’s free insulation scheme.

Talking to Dr Claire Mortimer-Griffin I realised how important it was both in terms of helping to keep her heating bills down, as well as contributing to reduction in global warming.

Visiting a local resident in Walkley who has benefited from the Council’s free insulation scheme.

Visiting a local resident in Walkley who has benefited from the Council’s free insulation scheme.

I really enjoyed the cup of tea and the chat about local issues and her love of art.

Diversity – Everyone Matters

I met with the new Chief Executive, Tariq Kataria, of the Pakistan Muslim Centre to talk about his hopes and aspirations for the centre. I found it really important that Tariq’s view is that the PMC should be a place where all the community who live in Sheffield can use, and to help breakdown some of the stereotypes that exist.

Really found Tariq to be a very forward and progressive thinking young man, and I am sure that it will help, both the Pakistan community as well as everyone in Sheffield, to breakdown some barriers.

Listening to Young People – working for the future

Young people’s views are very clear and they know how they can help to improve the future of Sheffield.

Young people’s views are very clear and they know how they can help to improve the future of Sheffield.

I was able to get around a number of youth projects this week, including some at Darnall, Woodthorpe and Arbourthorne.  I found it fascinating listening to the youth workers and young people.

Young people’s views are very clear and they know how they can help to improve, not just their lives, but the future of the city where they are going to make their future.

Getting around the city to see young people.

Getting around the city to see young people.

Some of the issues that came back were – greater youth provision, but also the desire for young people – who some times are marginalised – to have training and job opportunities.  While in Arbourthorne I gave the opportunity for a group of young men, who had been unemployed for a few years, to come into the Town Hall at some future date, to speak to me and some senior officers about how we can improve their opportunities to try to get better skills and on to the job ladder.

It was really refreshing to hear young people’s views so clearly and makes you understand as Leader of the City, just how most young people really do wish to do the best for themselves and the city, and break down the view of all young people as being ‘hoodies’ and ‘yobs’.

Mental Health – The Forgotten Health Service!

Many see mental health as a Cinderella service!   However we must not do that people with mental health should have the same opportunities as everyone else.  I was therefore delighted to meet a group of parents and people with mental health issues up at Middlewood Road North.  They were looking particularly at trying to get a crossing to ensure that people with mental health problems could get across the road safely and lead as independent lives as possible so that they could go to the shops.

I looked round the home that they lived in and was delighted to see them flourishing and desperate to lead independent lives.  With my Cabinet Member we agreed that we would look into this and get back to them as soon as possible.

Every Business Matters

Meeting Simon Wright from Hard Slog Art Studio

Meeting Simon Wright from Hard Slog Art Studio

During a recent visit down Fargate, when local new businesses were showcasing their wares, I met Simon Wright from Hard Slog Art Studio.  I promised to get him into the Town Hall and he came in this week to discuss his frustration at not receiving support to help grow his small start up business of art.  I was pleased that we were able to take him down to First for Business, which is the new service we have set up to help business grow and flourish.  I am sure that Simon, with our support, can continue to grow and hopefully his art will not just go on walls in Sheffield, but further a field.

As always if there is anything I can do to help please do not hesitate to contact me at Leader@sheffield.gov.uk and hopefully this blog is showing you that we, as a Council, are out there, and I as Leader am trying to ensure that Sheffield is a place where everyone matters.

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Welcome

July 17, 2009
This is my new blog as Leader of Sheffield City Council. I’m keen to share and explain to Sheffielders the work I do on behalf of you, your family and the city.

I hope you enjoy reading this blog, and if you have any questions or comments about the work that I am doing, then please do not hesitate to contact me.

Last week was a week of great diversity and some really difficult decisions have had to be made.

Skills For Young People
 Here's me at the In My Shoes event with young people from Sheffield

Here's me at the In My Shoes event with young people from Sheffield

 At the beginning of the week I met with Mark Lovell, who is one of the Directors of A4E, to discuss how we can improve skills for young people within the city, particularly in difficult economic times.  We came up with some good ideas and now these are being worked on to help our young people to have the skills they need, not just for work, but to be active citizens within the city.

Local Planning Issues

As the local Broomhill Ward Councillor I attended the Planning Board meeting to object to a Tesco store being built at Commonside.  In my view this would be a blot on the local landscape, which would not only create traffic problems, noise and nuisance problems for the local residents, but would also undermine what is becoming a thriving shopping centre within the Crookesmoor area.  I am pleased to say that the Planning Board supported local residents and the application was turned down.Local EconomyAlso I chaired the Sheffield First Partnership Board. 

This is the Board that brings together the Council, Police, Fire Service, Universities, College, private sector businesses, voluntary, faith and community sector, to work together to deal with issues that the city is facing and put forward plans to tackle them.We discussed the local economy and how we can ride out the recession without having as much damage as other cities, but also staying focussed on the long term so that when the economy improves, our city and Sheffielders can make the most of it as soon as possible.Botanical Gardens I visited the wonderful

Botanical Gardens

Me with Sue Kohler at the Botanical Gardens

Me with Sue Kohler at the Botanical Gardens

 I visited the Botanical Gardens to celebrate the 25 year anniversary of the Friends of the Botanical Gardens.  It was amazing to see such dedicated people who, in their spare time, like so many people in this city who volunteer, work to improve the look of the Botanical Gardens.  I presented Dr Sue Kohler a plaque to thank the Friends for all the work that they do, and it was good to see so many of them.

 Abbeydale Grange School

One of the hardest decisions I have had to make whilst being Leader of the Council was taken last week about Abbeydale Grange School. Despite trying desperately to find another school within the local area that would join up and merge with Abbeydale Grange, we so far haven’t been able to do so, and have had to take the very difficult decision to start consultation on closure for the School. 

The Cabinet meeting was full of emotion as many parents, pupils and staff argued why they wanted Abbeydale Grange to stay open.  The arguments were strong, and some of the young people’s presentations were incredibly well presented.  However, despite this, what is clear to me, and my Cabinet, is that we have to invest £14 million to improve the life of the existing and future pupils of Abbeydale Grange School. However, I am just as focussed as ever at trying to find a school that it can merge with, so that over the consultation period there may be another option available to local residents.

 In My Shoes

On a lighter note, I also attended the official launch in the Peace Gardens of the ‘In my Shoes’ event.  It was really enjoyable seeing so many different Sheffielders coming together just to take time out to talk about what it is like to be a Sheffielder in their shoes and from their perspective.  It was hosted by BBC Radio Sheffield’s wonderful Rony Robinson and Paulette Edwards. 
Me at the In My Shoes Event with Sheffield divers

Me at the In My Shoes Event with Sheffield divers

 

 
Me with Rony Robinson and Paulette Edwards at the In My Shoes event in Sheffield

Me with Rony Robinson and Paulette Edwards at the In My Shoes event in Sheffield

It was great to see so many young people there enjoying themselves.  There was some absolutely remarkable poetry from members of the Youth Council, which was both moving and very, very poignant about what it is like to be a young person in Sheffield.  I hope this becomes an annual event.

 

 
Visit to Town Hall small
  BiG 

As the Leader I try to open the Town Hall as much as possible for Sheffielders and on Thursday a group of young people from Firvale School visited me with their work as part of the BIG project.  The BIG project is a way of trying to encourage people to set up businesses within the city and to make a real go of being an entrepreneur.  Pupils tested their business and selling skills in a virtual market place and all made a profit! There’s certainly a career ahead for many of them as businessmen and women in the city. It makes me very proud to be Leader of a city with such young talent.

Charity Support

I meet so many people who contribute to this city, including those who work for charity. I presented a cheque from the Cue Ball event for more than £24,000 to two local charities – Cash for Kids and the Cathedral Archer Project helping homeless and vulnerable people.  Many of you will know that Sheffield is the home of snooker and every year a charity event is held during the World Snooker Championships to raise money for local charities.

Being Shadowed
Me with Beatrise in Sheffield Town Hall

Me with Beatrise in Sheffield Town Hall

 I have had quite a varied and busy week, and I must also mention that 15 year old Parkwood School pupil Beatrise shadowed me for a day.  This was arranged as part of the Pledge for Success campaign, which aims to raise attainment and aspiration levels for Sheffield’s young people.   She gave me feedback about the role of the Council from a young person’s view.  I was really impressed with her latching on to environmental issues, as a lot of young people do, and the work the Council needs to undertake to improve life in the future.

Thanks for Reading

I hope you have enjoyed reading this the first of my blogs, and keep looking to find out what else I am doing.  Please do leave a comment here.  All you need to do is sign up for a Word press account.

Regards

Paul