Sometimes you don’t plan to get involved in things necessarily, but they take on a life of their own and you get to see some great things happening as a result. In my last blog entry, I took the opportunity to publicise a low key ‘exhibition’ of students’ work on ideas for the regeneration of Attercliffe. Thanks to great work by Philip Strafford we got some media interest from the Yorkshire Post and, as a result of that, some folk who’re really involved in the future of Attercliffe (textbooks would call them ‘stakeholders’) kindly gave up their time to come and have a look.
I knew the students had put a lot of work in, but I could not have anticipated the strength of the positive reaction from those that came to see their posters. To cut a long story short, Steve Birch, a planner from Sheffield City Council and David Slater, chair of the Attercliffe Business Connection, suggested that the posters needed a more public airing in order to raise the profile of Attercliffe and its need for investment – and of course to publicise the Council’s own Attercliffe Action Plan.
And what better place to capture the imagination of the Sheffield public than Sheffield’s brilliant Winter Garden?
So on Thursday 23 February we set up some of the posters right in the middle of the Winter Garden and spent the whole day talking to a very broad mix of people, all of them united in their concern to see how Attercliffe might change for the better over the coming years. Representatives from the the Council, Attercliffe Busines Connection and Attercliffe Asian Business Connection joined myself and students in loitering with intent all day, talking to intersting passers-by, and even chatting to Rony Robinson on Radio Sheffield about what Attercliffe means to the city. The strategic importance of the area, both historically and now, was one of the recurring themes – the idea that Attercliffe is an incredibly important ‘gateway’ to Sheffield but was suffered a poor reputation. This was highlighted not least by visits from Councillor Harry Harphum, cabinet member for housing and regeneration, and Councillor Shaffaq Mohammed, leader of the the Lib Dem opposition.
It was a great day, and I think members of the public genuinely enjoyed seeing the ‘lost gateway’ of Attercliffe getting the attention it deserves. Hopefully the energies of local businesses, residents, officers and councillors will lead to Attercliffe getting the investment it needs. For me and for the students it was an invaluable lesson in the importance of getting out there – and of the power of the media!