Pinstone Street, the home of Sheffield’s independent fast food

The one good thing to come out of the Sevenstone delay?

Fanoush Falafel and the Street Food Chef

Fanoush Falafel and the Street Food Chef

As we wait to find out what the latest talks between the council and Hammerson mean for Sheffield’s Sevenstone retail quarter, an independent food revolution is quietly happening in town.

Pinstone Street is one of the key roads on the edge of the proposed development. In anticipation of demolition and construction work beginning many of the old shops closed down or moved to alternative locations, leaving a depressing row of empty units.

Not for long though. The good news is that a growing number of tasty food outlets have moved in and are breathing life into the vacant shops on Pinstone Street.

The award-winning Street Food Chef arrived first, serving up Mexican street food from tacos, burritos to empanadas. Their breakfast burritos are delicious.

Flurt frozen yoghurt in Sheffield

Flurt frozen yoghurt on PInstone Street

Then Flurt opened a few doors up, offering fat-free frozen yoghurt. A perfect pudding if you’ve got room after your lunchtime burrito.

And this morning Claire from Feast and Glory revealed that Fanoush Falafel is opening next door to the Street Food Chef. Fanoush already have a shop on London Road so it is great to see them opening in town.

What all three of these outlets have in common is that they are independent businesses, offering an alternative to the food chains that you can find in any city. The food is fast, tasty and relatively healthy. They’re definitely worth supporting.

It’s ironic that without Sevenstone these great food outlets may not have opened at all on Pinstone Street. Perhaps the growth of these businesses points to the approach we should take for a city centre retail quarter: if you create favourable terms for people to take on shops in good locations then local, independent businesses can flourish, even alongside the big chains. The city centre needs both.

Make the most of these foodie gems while you can, as a green light for Sevenstone could mean the end of these independent food outlets in prime city centre locations.


Cycling in Sheffield: five things I’ve learned

Back on my bike after 20 years

My dad recently bought himself a new bike and in turn offered me his old one as a hand-me-down. I haven’t really ridden a bike since I was a teenager so was a bit apprehensive but thought I’d give it a go. The good news is that I’m quite enjoying it and of course any excuse to do some exercise and put off the full-on arrival of my middle-aged spread is welcome.

Due to its proximity to the Peak District, Sheffield is a bit of a hub for outdoorsy types and cycling seems to be up there with climbing as one of those things that a lot of people do. Team GB’s cycling success at the Olympics will encourage even more people to take it up. So how have I found my first few weeks of cycling here? Below are five observations about cycling in Sheffield I’ve made since being back in the saddle.

1. Our roads surfaces are rubbish

As a car owner, of course I already knew this. But only when you experience all those bumps, cracks and potholes for yourself on a bike do you truly appreciate the rotten state of our city’s roads. The cycle lane on some is even worse than the car lane, which doesn’t really encourage you to use them. Hopefully this will be addressed by the £2bn highways PFI project, which has promised to make Sheffield’s roads and pavements better for everyone.

2. Sheffield isn’t yet a truly bike-friendly city

University Square roundabout: not great for cyclists

University Square roundabout: not great for cyclists

Although the council has made some effort to make it easy to cycle around Sheffield, more could be done. We have some cycle routes, but they aren’t brilliantly joined up. We have cycle lanes and crossings, but these aren’t always in locations where you need them most, for example trying to navigate – or preferably avoid completely – University Square roundabout. We have a council cycle map PDF, but this would work much better as a proper interactive map, plus I soon realised that many of the cycle parking facilities are currently missing off it. Thankfully the cycling campaign groups are pressuring the council to do more for cycling in Sheffield.

3. The hills are steep

Brilliant for cycling down but not so much fun on the return leg. I live near the top of one, which means that nearly every bike ride ends with a punishing slog back home. I suppose it is better having it this way round, instead of needing to shower at work in the morning. No doubt I’ll eventually find them easier but in the meantime I’m still having to push my bike up some of our hills so when you speed past please do give an encouraging thumbs up.

4. Cycling is different to driving

You tend to see roads and particularly junctions differently when you’re on your bike. I’ve needed to brush up a bit on my highway code and look up some of the advice online regarding things like what a cyclist should do in terms of passing stationary or slow-moving traffic. So far, I haven’t had any run-ins with motorists, touch wood. I’ve also made sure I’ve avoided things like cycling through red lights, which is something that can drive you mad as a car driver. You obviously feel less safe on a bike compared to in a car and if there were to be an accident, it is likely that the cyclist will get hurt, regardless of who is at fault. But so far so good. One bonus of cycling over driving is that you don’t have to pay stupidly high petrol and city centre car park prices.

5. Recycle Bikes is great

The old bike I was given needed some basic repairs and someone recommended that I take it to a social enterprise called Recycle Bikes, based in Heeley, It’s an independent, not-for-profit bike project which is involved in loads of worthwhile stuff including recycling old bikes, running youth and adult training and doing very reasonable repairs using recycled parts. They are part of Heeley Development Trust and I think are definitely worth considering if you need a repair, are looking for a cheap recycled bike or even have an old one to donate.

What are your experiences of cycling or cyclists in Sheffield, ? Is there anything else I should know?

Olympic torch relay route in Sheffield – interactive map

Where to see the torch

If you’re struggling with the council’s PDF downloads of the Olympic torch relay route in Sheffield then you may find this interactive Google map by @beaneee useful. It shows the route for Monday 25 June. The torch also departs Don Valley stadium at 6.45am on Tuesday.

Best place to watch it on Monday? I’d be tempted by The University Arms, where there is live music, a barbeque and their usual choice of good beer. Anyone know if any other pubs on route doing anything special?

Route for Monday 25 June

16:45 arrives at Chapeltown;
The route is then Chapeltown Cowley Hill (A629) then Ecclesfield Road (A6135).

17:05 arrives in Ecclesfied;
The route is then Ecclesfield Road (A6135), Church Street (B6087), Stocks Hill (B6087), Yew Lane (B6087), Chaucer Road (B6087), Chaucer Close.
At this point the torch relay team board the bus and the torch will not be visible to the public.

17:40 arrives at Hillsborough;
The route is then Leppings Lane (B6079), Parkside Road (A6102), Hillsborough Park, Penistone Road North (A61), Hoyle Street (A61), Brook Hill (A57), Clarkson Street, Glossop Road (B6069), Clarkehouse Road (B6069), Brocco Bank.

18:40 arrives at Ecclesall;
The route is then Ecclesall Road (A625), St Mary’s Gate (A61), Eyre Street (A621), Arundel Gate (A621), Norfolk Street, Surrey Street, Leopold Street.
Arrives at the evening celebration in Barkers Pool.
16.00 doors open
17.30 first act
20.00 show closes

Help save Museums Sheffield

What you can do to support culture in our city

Weston Park Museum: jobs and exhibitions are under threat

Weston Park Museum: jobs and exhibitions are under threat

As you may have heard Museums Sheffield (which runs Millennium Gallery, Graves Gallery and Weston Park Museum) was dealt a devastating funding blow this week when it failed to get Renaissance funding from the Arts Council.

Not getting this funding means a 30% cut in Museums Sheffield’s annual budget which in turn means redundancies, a reduction of learning activity and none of the high profile collaborations with Tate, V&A and the British Museum which have resulted in a first-class exhibition programme over the last few years rather than the sort of municipal displays you can often find in regional museums and galleries.

Clearly it’s a major blow to Sheffield if our museums service degenerates in this way and will have a damaging ripple effect on the rest of the cultural scene.

If you feel moved to, it would be great if you could register your displeasure at this decision and persuade the powers that be to think about other means of supporting Museums Sheffield:

Museums Sheffield: make the case for culture in Sheffield

This amounts to interrogating the Arts Council on their decision. Email ACE Yorkshire at marking it for the attention of the Yorkshire Office. You can also email Alan Davey the head of the Arts Council

I’m sure you can compose your own email but good points to cover might be:

  • Museums Sheffield provides an excellent and museums service which will now be compromised – you might want to include your favourite exhibitions of the past few years.
  • Museums Sheffield serves a diverse and large audience – ‘Great Art for Everyone’ in the words of the Arts Council.
  • A decimated museums service will have a degenerative effect on the wider arts scene in Sheffield.
  • Why were York and Leeds chosen over Sheffield when both cities have a stronger tourist economy, more robust arts infrastructure and greater investment from the Arts Council already – surely Sheffield needs this support most.
  • ACE’s allocation of Renaissance funding is unbalanced – central England inc. Sheffield, Nottingham, Derby and Leicester all unsuccessful in their bids. London, Oxford and Cambridge all successful – rich cities and services getting richer and poor ones getting poorer.
  • Finally a call to reverse the decision/ find other ways of supporting Museums Sheffield.

If you’re a Sheffield resident its also worth contacting your local councillors and MPs imploring for local government to support Museums Sheffield in the absence of Arts Council funding.

You can find contact the relevant contacts on the Sheffield city council website and

Again, good points to make might be:

  • Museums Sheffield provides an excellent and museums service which will now be compromised – you might want to include your favourite exhibitions of the past few years.
  • The people who will suffer from this are Sheffield residents from all areas and backgrounds.
  • A decimated museums service will have a degenerative effect on the wider arts scene in Sheffield.
  • Despite difficult budgeting decisions it’s time for Sheffield City Council to invest in culture in Sheffield in order to enjoy economic and social returns.
  • Finally entreat them to protest at the Arts Councils decision and support Museums Sheffield via local government funding.

Thanks for standing up for culture in Sheffield.

You can also follow @Ruskins_Ghost on Twitter for more on the #saveSheffieldmuseums campaign.

The text in this post is used with permission by the author. Please use it and pass the message round to any friends and colleagues you think would be interested.

Free Sheffield parking iPhone/iPad app

Park Up S1 parking app

Park Up S1 parking app

Parking for motorists and cyclists

A free iOS app has just been launched that shows the closest car parks, number of blue badge bays and cycle parking available round the city.

The app by Chris Mainprize displays your location on the map to help you find the nearest place to park.

It doesn’t currently give you a live update of how many spaces are available in each parking area, but if like me you tend to stick with the same two or three car parks in town regardless of where you’re heading, it could be useful.

Park Up S1 in iTunes

Sheffield city council needs a new Twitter username

…and so does the Sheffield Telegraph

Sheffield city council on Twitter

Sheffield city council on Twitter

The council’s approach to Twitter has come a long since its fledgling first steps where #almost #every #word #was #inexplicably #hashtagged. They seem to have got the hang of it now and have certainly discovered its value, particularly during times of crisis such as our occasional floods.

I was thinking about how they might further improve what they are doing and for me the username they have chosen, ‘SCCPressOffice‘, is not very good. You might hope that after being on Twitter for a year or two, they would realise that the could change it to a name which would work for them much more effectively.

Here’s why Sheffield city council needs to change their SCCPressOffice Twitter username:

  • It doesn’t contain the name of the organisation that it is supposed to represent
    Sheffield city council is called Sheffield city council, and none of those words are included in the name. Instead, they have chosen to use an abbreviation that no member of the public would really choose of using (SCC) and also the name of the department providing the tweets. To me, this seems quite inward-looking: why base your name on meaningless local government internal jargon and the name of an internal department? By all means use your Twitter biography to explain who is running the account on behalf of the organisation, but not your username
  • It doesn’t contain the name of the city it is supposed to represent
    The council’s primary interest, and the reason it exists, is the city of Sheffield. Although it may not always be demonstrated with swagger, the people who live here love their city and have plenty of civic pride. Why wouldn’t the council choose to include the word Sheffield when representing itself online?
  • It doesn’t help search engine optimisation
    When choosing names for things like this, it is good to pick a name that is also the kind of thing that people will put into Google or the Twitter search box to look for it. Who on earth would search for SCCPressOffice? Perhaps someone wanting to get in touch with the press office. But everyone else would type ‘Sheffield council’ or ‘Sheffield city council’
  • It doesn’t read very well
    I’ve got used to it now, but to someone unfamiliar with the name, SCCPressOffice doesn’t scan very well and isn’t particularly easy to read. Their Twitter biography also doesn’t make sense: “Sheffield City Council, Sheffield where everyone matters”
  • It isn’t really on-brand
    I’m guessing that the council doesn’t have a very developed set of brand guidelines. If it did, referring to itself externally as SCC would surely not be encouraged

It seems to me that when setting up this Twitter account the council has made the classic mistake of naming it based on the internal set-up of the organisation, instead of their audience’s needs. As I said, few people call the council ‘SCC’ and no-one really cares that the press office update it. To the outside world, that Twitter account is Sheffield city council and the name should reflect that.

I’m not out to slag off the council or the people running the account, I just want to see the prominent users of digital services like Twitter in Sheffield use them to their maximum potential. They offer an opportunity to engage with hard-to-reach people and are a great way for the public to feed back on council services. Getting the name right is a good start and a platform on which to build.

As a footnote, the Sheffield Telegraph has also not chosen a very good Twitter username in ‘shftelegraph‘. It isn’t easy to remember what it is (I should know, as I type it every week), it doesn’t mention Sheffield or Telegraph and their Twitter name (different to username) is Sheffield Newspapers. When looking for the paper on Twitter, who would type the name of the parent group instead of the newspaper title?

Come on council and the Sheffield Telegraph: no matter how much red tape is in your organisation, the power is in your hands to make this easy change. You won’t lose any users and it can be done in two minutes. What do you say?

All in a day BBC4 Sheffield documentary

More seventies Sheffield

This fly-on-the-wall-style documentary shows a day in the life of Sheffield in September 1973. There is no commentary, and the only real narrative is the progression of events, with the cameras returning to certain stories – such as a birth, a death and a marriage – throughout the day.

In terms of visual change, there is plenty to look out for. The cooling towers form part of the backdrop; Bramall Lane still has tall floodlights on the corners of the ground; the Peace gardens are the old layout; people are still using outdoor loos; the Black swan (aka the Mucky duck) was still open; and at one point I think you can spot the now-demolished Kelvin flats.

The local media also feature quite prominently. An audio clip announces that it is ‘Radio Sheffield breakfast magazine edition one’, although with the station going live six years previously, it presumably wasn’t the first incarnation of the breakfast show.

We also get to see behind the scenes at an editorial meeting at Sheffield Newspapers, where the front-page news is that the corporation is to halt council house building and a bread delivery lorry’s brakes have failed, causing it to crash into a Walkley house.

Some of the seventies background music makes scenes from All in a day reminiscent of City on the move. And I couldn’t help being reminded a little bit of the beginning part of Threads. Obviously, the turn of events in All in a day isn’t so tragic, but to a viewer who wasn’t born in 1973 and who was only young in 1984, they both have a similar old-Sheffield feel.

Oh and look out for the bizarre, symbolic juxtaposition of a priest leading communion, ‘This is my blood…shed for you and for many for the remission of sins’, which then cuts to a pig being slaughtered.

You can watch the All in a day documentary below.

Sheffield Christmas market: your opinions wanted

Where is there room for improvement?

Were you one of the 250,000 people that visited the Peace gardens over the festive season for Sheffield Christmas market?

I’ve been asked to gather some opinions of the Christmas market on behalf of the people behind it. What did you think? I’ve put a few thoughts here – feel free to add your own by commenting below.

Last year’s Christmas market felt a bit underwhelming but this year’s was a definite improvement. There were better quality stalls and the ice rink made it feel more like a destination as opposed to just another market.

When passing, the ice rink never looked that busy and felt a bit expensive for Sheffield at £8 for an adult. The price was slashed to £6 for the final few days so perhaps this is a more realistic price to aim for.

It would be great if there were more Christmassy stalls. This would help further differentiate it from some of the other markets we have in Sheffield through the year.

It would also benefit from more local suppliers selling more local products. Sheffield people love buying Sheffield stuff, so to get some of our local food, arts, crafts on sale would be great. It would also make it more uniquely Sheffield instead of a generic Christmas market that you could find a bigger and currently better version of elsewhere, for example in Manchester and Leeds.

One problem with these events in Sheffield is that we don’t seem to have a perfect location for them. The Peace gardens is very prominent, but it does seem a bit cramped in there. The same goes for Fargate – probably our busiest shopping street, but gets horrible bottlenecks when the continental market is on.

One thought would be to host it in the big area they have just flattened where the fire station was. This may a better use of space than another car park until Sevenstone arrives.

There’s no doubt that the current market can be improved. A great Christmas market for Sheffield will take time to establish; we obviously aren’t going to go from nothing to one rivalling others in a couple of years.

What do you think? Has it been a success? Is it the sort of place you would take visitors? And what is it missing? Comment below and your thoughts will be fed back to the organisers.

Paul Scriven’s Mercure Sheffield St Paul’s hotel training video

Not such a perfect day for the leader of Sheffield city council

The original of this video was hastily removed this morning, although Sheffield politics has preserved a copy and uploaded it again:

Paul explained on Twitter that it is an internal training video.

Castle market in Sheffield will not be listed

Does this pave the way for excavated Sheffield castle ruins and park? Or just Leeds-style crap office blocks?

This morning it was announced that the Minister for tourism and heritage has decided not to list Castle market building.

This news means that in theory the major stumbling block to the Castlegate part of the 2008 city centre masterplan has been removed.

The masterplan outlined a vision for the excavation of Sheffield castle ruins, which are under the present market building, and the creation of a park in the vicinity. This would be an important part of of the regeneration of the Castlegate and Victoria quays area.

The debate about whether or not it should be listed has gone on for a few months now. Some people see the old markets as a eyesore in an already run down area and would be glad to see it gone.

Others see the 1960s building as an example of what makes Sheffield different to other northern cities. They argue that it is a unique place where working class people come to shop that has been neglected over the years, which should be kept in the heart of the city.

On the radio tonight a councillor said that archaeologists would be given time to investigate the ruins of the castle to see what can be made of them. But in a recession is it possible that the masterplan proposals would never be realised anyway?

The author of the blog posts linked to above, Owen Hatherley, has said in reaction to the announcement that the remains of the market are dull and that ‘there will be no park, just a wasteland that will eventually be filled, in the extremely unlikely event the economy picks up, with Leeds-style crap office blocks.’

What do you think? Should we demolish the market building now it will not be listed and hope that the masterplan comes to fruition? Or does it have a social value and architectural merit that we need to retain?