Last night the inaugural South East Sheffield Local Area Committee meeting was held at the South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Training Centre on Beaver Hill Road.
The meeting was chaired by Mosborough Ward Councillor Tony Downing with Woodhouse Ward Councillor Jackie Satur as vice chair. Other councillors in attendance were Cllr Bryan Lodge, Cllr Karen McGowan, Cllr Mick Rooney and Cllr Paul Wood, as well a small number of councillors representing the Lib Dem Party . The meeting was also attended by a number of council officers as well as the new manager of the South East Sheffield LAC, Jayne Foulds. The audience consisted of a mixture of local residents as well as representatives from a number of local community and faith groups from across the four wards of Beighton, Birley, Mosborough and Woodhouse.
Following a similar theme to the other LAC meetings, which have already been held across the City, this initial meeting was all about introductions. Introducing the members of the LAC and also introducing its mission statement which is to engage, empower and enable local residents and local organisations and to bring decision making closer to our local communities. This includes producing an ambitious but achievable annual Community Plan as well as working with local partners, stakeholders and council services to meet the needs of those local communities. The work with local partners and community groups will be especially important to help ensure that those seldom heard voices within our communities are fully involved and can have their say.
Each LAC has been allocated a budget of £100k to spend on the local issues that matter most to their local community. Additional funding is also available within each council ward thanks to the doubling of this year’s Ward Pot budgets. There is also a share of funding available from the city-wide Fly Tipping and Graffiti budget.
After introductions had finished there was a very informative Q and A session where both residents and the representatives of the local community and faith groups were given the opportunity to ask Councillors and council officers more about how the new LAC will work to benefit the local area.
Questions raised by audience members from Beighton and Mosborough included issues around parking near to local schools and also incidents of anti social behaviour in the area as well as instances of nuisance off road bikes in and around the green spaces within the two wards.
Answers given by Councillors were that more involvement from Parking Services would be asked for and that for those schools not situated on main roads it may be possible to restrict access to those streets during pick up and drop off times on school days. Councillors all agreed that anti social behaviour was a problem across the entire area and that residents should try to report incidents whenever they occur as this helps South Yorkshire Police identify hot spots and also identify the best times to patrol those areas. The SYP Off Road Bike team have also been patrolling regularly in the area in recent weeks.
It should also be mentioned that the new Community Street Wardens have recently started to patrol in our area. These were introduced as one of Sheffield Labour Councillor’s city wide election pledges in May’s local election. Their role is to help to prevent anti social and nuisance behaviour and each LAC area has their own dedicated team.
The Friends of Birley Spa group asked how long applications to the Ward Pot fund take to complete and were told that their application had been received and would be accessed shortly.
Audience members from Woodhouse ward were concerned about speeding motorists in Handsworth and also about the poor quality of road resurfacing work in the Badger Road area.
Councillors explained that unfortunately the placement of speed cameras was not a Council decision but one taken primarily by the police, based on local accident figures. It was also explained that highways regulations can be quite restrictive and that in 30mph areas it is currently against regulations to place 30mph signage at regular intervals along the road. This is allowed for 40mph roads but not 30mph ones. It was suggested that this issue be brought to local Labour MP Clive Betts to lobby for a change to the regulations on our behalf. In terms of the poor quality of road resurfacing work it was agreed that the quality of workmanship that Amey were providing left a lot to be desired and Cllr Mick Rooney added that the Council would ‘hold Amey’s feet to the fire’ to ensure quality improved.
Other questions raised were about frustration at planning decisions being overturned on appeal by the Planning Inspectorate, how to get more younger people involved and engaged in democracy and how the Council can help to fight both the climate and the ecological emergencies.
Cllr Tony Downing agreed that it was very frustrating when the Planning Inspectorate overturned planning decisions made at a local level. Birley Ward Cllr Karen McGowan told the audience that one of the ways that they planned to involve younger residents was to hold regular Youth Surgeries specifically to listen to their concerns and all agreed that more needed to be done to listen to youth voices within our communities.
Finally the brief discussion about the climate and ecological emergencies led to some interesting answers. Firstly from Cllr Paul Wood, where we learned that the Council is looking at plans to ‘wildflower’ grass verges throughout the city as well as planting fruit trees throughout the local green spaces. Secondly from Cllr Bryan Lodge who outlined a need to adopt new and innovative solutions which included a fully integrated travel system to encourage more people to leave their cars at home and also an intriguing suggestion to look to the rivers that Sheffield is built upon with a view to harnessing their power through hydropower
The next public meeting of the South East Sheffield Local Area Committee will be held in January but meanwhile, If you have not already done so, please fill in the East Sheffield LAC online survey by clicking on the link below and ensure that your voice is heard as the information gathered will help to formulate the areas annual Community Plan and will be used to decide how the LAC’s £100,000 budget can be best used within our local communities. Survey closes October 31st 2021