Agenda item

Public Questions and Petitions

To receive any questions or petitions from members of the public.


(NOTE: There is a time limit of up to 30 minutes for the above item of business. In accordance with the arrangements published on the Council’s website, questions/petitions at the meeting are required to be submitted in writing, to, by 9.00 a.m. on 18th January, 2023).



The Policy Committee received no petitions from members of the public.



The Committee received ten questions from members of the public. Eight members of the public did not attend to ask their questions, written responses would be provided.


Question from: Friends of Graves Park


Are the Charity Sub-committee members aware of the following regarding the Norton Nurseries section of Graves Park:


1. That the Norton Nursery is part of the gift to the citizens of Sheffield by J G Graves, is part of Graves Park and is charitable parkland?


2. That in 1998 this land was declared derelict and surplus to requirements by the council and that attempts were made to sell it for housing development?


3. That this was eventually prevented by strong local opposition, eventually supported by the Charity Commission and that there was an apology at the time from the council and an assurance that the land would be restored back to parkland?


4. That the first section of this restoration, Chantreyland Meadow, was actioned by the Friends of Graves Park and that this section opened in 2006?


5. That the council attempted, yet again, to dispose of the Norton Nurseries site in 2008, this time in an attempt to move St. Luke’s hospice to the site, as once again they insisted that it was derelict and surplus to requirements? Are they also aware that this failed, partly because of the huge local opposition from the local community and beyond, partly because of the eventual intervention of the Charity Commission and partly because subsequently it emerged that St. Luke’s could not have financially made this move?


6. That the second section of restoration of the site, called the Arboretum, or “The Secret Garden”, actioned by the Friends of Graves Park, opened to the public in 2016? Are they also aware that at this time the Friends asked for the third section to be released for restoration?


7. That as late as 2014, the council insisted that the Norton Nurseries site was not being used, was derelict and was surplus to requirements?


8. That the Parks department, when saying that this land has been used as a depot for parks since the closure of the Norton Nurseries horticulture activities, cannot be correct if the land was declared derelict and surplus to requirements in 1998 and again in 2008?


9. That the FOI responses we received make it clear that the Norton Nurseries site “is not and has never been designated “depot land”, yet despite this, the site is being used as a depot for Graves Park and other local areas? Are the Trustees aware that these “other local areas” are:


a. “Parks in these areas include: Barbers Field, Batemoor Open Space, Beauchief Gardens, Bents Green Playing Field, Bradway Rec, Broadfield Rd Open Space, Chancet Wood Playing Field, Dore Rec, Graves Park, Graves Park Animal farm, Green Oak Rec, Greenhill Park, Herdings Park, Meersbrook Park, Millhouses Park, Totley

Bents Open Space, Totley Hall Playing Field, Whirlow Brook Park, Beaver Hill Rec, Charnock Park, Frecheville Park and Whinfell Quarry Gardens?” (22 Including Graves Park and Graves Park Animal Farm)


b. “In addition operatives working out of Norton Nurseries cover the following areas of the city (and associated green spaces) Dore, Totley, Whirlow, Millhouses, Bradway, Lowedges, Greenhill, Norton, Batemoor, Jordanthorpe, Meersbrook, Heeley, Gleadless, Frecheville, Birley, Charnock, Basegreen. Teams working in these areas will empty bins that have been used by the public and bring the bags of rubbish to Norton where they can then be taken by a larger vehicle to the waste collection site in Darnall to save multiple vehicles driving to and from Darnall every day.” (Total of 17 including Norton).


c. In addition, we have anecdotal evidence that rubbish is brought here from Page Hall and Concord Parks. Also, during Covid, when Endcliffe Park had to be cleared of the rubbish left by the public, it was all taken to Norton Nurseries.


10. That the Parks department has conceded that this land needs to be restored back to parkland? This being the case do the Trustees agree that waiting for a review of depots, which could take up to 5 years, is not relevant, since this site is not a depot and that 25 years is far too long for the local community to wait for Sheffield City Council to honour its promise to allow the Friends of Graves Park, at their own expense, to restore this section of the park back to parkland?


Finally, are the trustees aware that the next section to be restored is not currently occupied or being used for anything and that the above activities, as well as the storage of vehicles and fuel, are all within the part of the Nurseries on the other side of the glasshouses and that the commencement of restoration would not impact on the use of the Nurseries as a depot?


Will the Charity Sub-committee please, as a matter of urgency agree to the land being released to the Friends of Graves Park, so that it can be restored back to parkland and reopened to public use with immediate effect?


The Chair thanked the questioner for attending and explained that the site was part of a review of the Council’s operations across the city and therefore it was unable to make any decisions until the review was complete. It was also acknowledged that it would be would be impractical and uneconomic both in respect of the maintenance and operational aspects of running Graves Park and for providing services to the other parks in the surrounding area to find an alternative site at that time.


Excellent work had been carried out by the Friends of Graves Park on the Chantreyland Meadow and the Arboretum and although there was a desire to see further areas restored to a similar standard it was not possible to allow volunteer groups access to the site at that time due to Health and Safety concerns.


The Chair offered assurance that there was no appetite to dispose of the land for any other purpose and quoted guidance from the Charities Commission explaining that a charity cannot generally transfer its property to a non-charitable body or for a non-charitable purpose for example, charity land could not be transferred to a local authority to form part of its statutory property even if it was to be used for purposes similar to those formerly undertaken by the charity.


The Chair was happy to meet with the Friends of Graves Park to discuss the matter further.


Question from: Ruth Hubbard


It's disappointing to see yet another rather cheerleading report on Tramlines that - in line with all reports that have gone before - fails to address considerable local hillsborough community concerns. In fact, once again, it appears public and private,/corporate interests are aligned and conflated - whilst community concerns are ignored.


1. So it's claimed a "comprehensive review' of licensing arrangements has taken place. What role, then, have local community and park user group stakeholders, plus local citizens, played in this comprehensive review? What was learned and taken on board by all parties?


2. A reasonable list of community concerns that have been being consistently raised for four years or more at least includes:

- impacts on/ mitigations for local businesses

- urine-filled gardens/ginnels and smelly streets

- other anti-social behaviour (street drunkenness/pre-loading, litter etc)

- a range of parking/traffic/public transport issues (& for better end of day dispersals)

- re-entry for all as of right (rather than discretionary gift & favour for local residents), and prohibitive drink/food costs from largely chain-type festival stall holders for its consequently captive audience)

- disputes about noise levels and the disturbances they bring

- a range of other evident pre and post-festival impacts

Which of these (or any general festival management arrangements that concern local residents) were considered for the comprehensive review and as suitable for building in to new licence arrangements.


3 What do officers and councillors know about Tramlines in-house residents survey, and what is said in feedback sessions? Why is it mentioned in this report without mentioning any findings and influence these might or might not be having? Indeed, why aren’t the findings public? Why isn't the appropriateness of a corporate partners own survey not questioned? What information have officers gathered themselves, or understood from petition, PQ, local cllr insights, LAC representations and the fact its consistently all over social media year on year?


4. Why does this council continue to ignore Hillsborough residents wide-ranging concerns? What do they need to do to be heard? Should they spend a year like graves park campaigners have, very strongly pushing the council, using loud and powerful well-known local voices, holding a few protest-type public meeting events, or should they plan to do things like picket Tramlines or engage in other direct disruptions? Would that kind of action be better heard by our council? Does 'people at the heart of all we do' mean Tramlines people? Is it more boring for officers to talk to local residents, businesses and groups and understand their concerns - or to continue to block their voices - than it is to engage with a rapidly growing global business with private equity backers and an increasingly complex corporate structure?


5. Why has the Parklife Festival in Heaton Park Manchester had a Community Impact Team in place since 2015, plus an Event Community Consultation Group dealing at a detailed level with local community impacts when Sheffield and Hillsborough does not? Why has Portsmouth's Victorious Festival (also run by Superstruct) got re-entry rights for all that are championed by their local council as protective of local businesses, when Tramlines does not?


6. What are the implications for local residents (as well as festival goers) of a shift to a 'right to occupy' licence from a premises licence? (And does this have any impact in the context of charitable status?)


7. Will this council require all Tramlines Reports from now on to directly address community concerns and the progress that is being made on these issues?


8. Will this committee refuse to endorse work towards new licence arrangements before community and local stakeholders concerns have been fully discussed with those involved and appropriate consultation carried out to consider them as potential inclusions for the new licence? I note that this is exactly what the relevant committee did when it was discovered that no stakeholders had been properly consulted for the development of the MUGA proposals in Hillsborough park. That is, the committee delayed MUGA progress until basic Consultation work was done with stakeholders.


9. I note the £500 to be donated to Friends of Hillsborough Park. Except FOHP has folded precisely because they felt utterly dispirited by the council failure to engage Presumably the walled garden group will now benefit from this £500. Have our council perused Tramlines (multiple companies) latest submitted accounts?


10. I also note on the Hillsborough park accounts on another item, Friends of Hillsborough Park are 'bigged up' as being at the centre of park management arrangements. If this was ever true, its not been true for a while has it? What do the council intend to do about the inaccuracy in the accounts, and about new Hillsborough park arrangements with the demise of FOHP.


11. Who controls Tramlines Trust, and what are the management arrangements? Do they involve local residents and stakeholders? What information is made public about their donations and work?

For clarity, in answers I am not interested in hearing more defensive justifications about Tramlines, still less more of our council acting as corporate cheerleaders. These answers simply act to obscure and block ongoing, legitimate and persistent community concerns and as though Hillsborough has to simply put up with it for the sake of Sheffield. These answers also sometimes assume - or seem to want to assume - that it's a zero sum debate of for or against Tramlines, when it's not. Nor do I hope to hear more about what members of councillors families think of Tramlines. I've also had some perfectly reasonable letters from committee chairs in response to previous inquiries and questions - however, I cannot recall a time when a committee or an officer report has taken up in any serious or meaningful way the community concerns I'm talking about, nor have I heard any positive proposals being brought forth in public in committee meetings to tackle concerns.


The Chair thanked the questioner for attending and apologised that the item on Tramlines had been deferred from the agenda. It was explained that the license review referred to in the report was not a review of a premises license, but rather the “right to occupy” license agreement and focused on wet weather mitigations and event cancellation procedures.


Community concerns raise in July 2023 were considered in the report prepared for committee but there had not been a consistent list raised for four years. The example of re-entry to the event was not raised until after the 2022 event. In 2023 the resident parking scheme was extended and there was a dedicated resident parking page on the Tramlines website.


Resident feedback is available to view on the Tramlines website. The Chair assured the questioner that the residents views were being heard, mitigation measures had been put into place wherever feasible and the significant number of complaints received following the 2023 event had all been considered and responded to in the prepared report.


The Chair provided a response from Tramlines highlighting the dedicated residents liaison team that had been in place since the event moved to Hillsborough in 2018. The team dealt with any incidents as they arose and specific examples of this were provided. Tramlines had also clarified that the Victorious Festival in Portsmouth operated on a much larger site with more than 5 entry and exit points that could accommodate a transient crowd. This involved closing the surrounding roads in order to create sterile areas and this would not be appropriate in Hillsborough.


It was explained that feedback received from members of the public following committee reports in September 2023 had been considered and included in the prepared report. The £500 donation to the Friends of Hillsborough Park, queried in the questions was detailed more explicitly referencing paragraph 1.15 of the report which stated that “Tramlines will donate £500 per annum to the Friends of Hillsborough Park (or other volunteer group working in Hillsborough Park) to help volunteers to continue their valuable work in the park”.


The Chair clarified that the last published reports for the Hillsborough Park Charity were for the financial year ended 31st March 2022 and were accurate at the time of submission. The final question relating to the Tramlines Trust was referred to a page on the Tramlines website that provided further information The Tramlines Trust - Tramlines Festival 2024



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