Agenda item

Public Questions and Petitions

To receive any questions or petitions from members of the public



The Policy Committee received a petition “Swift Bricks”.  Flora Jeferzade attended the meeting and presented the petition to the committee.


The petitioner explained that Swifts had been on earth for 72 million years, but they would become extinct in the next 30 years if they were not provided with permanent nesting opportunities now.  Swifts had declined by 60% since 1997 and the main cause of this was nest destruction by eaves being blocked up in the fitting of modern soffits and facias to buildings.


Ms Jeferzade talked about how the installation of modern facias and soffits to buildings meant historic nests in eaves of homes were lost and how the local swift groups worked to stop scaffolding being erected in nesting season, which could threaten colonies of swifts returning to nests.  Ms Jeferzade explained how they watched the swifts continuously crash into scaffolding trying to enter their nests, many would break their wings and even die.  Ms Jeferzade explained that the group had had success by halting work taking place if swifts were nesting.


The group had worked with Sky-House to install 50 permanent bricks at Oughtibridge Mill like elsewhere in the country.  Ms Jeferzade  explained that there were many brands of the brick and it was contained within the building, for life and was maintenance free, cheap and easy to install.  The importance of the brick was unquestionable to the survival of the birds.  There were still pockets of swift colonies in Sheffield and if there were no holes, there would be no nests, no chicks and no Swifts.


The Chair thanked the petitioner for her passionate speech.


The Chair advised Policy GS5 in the Draft Local Plan ‘Development and Biodiversity’ included a clause (part l) that required developments to “incorporate design features that enhance biodiversity’.  In the definition section of the policy, it was indicated that this “could include, for example, green roofs, bird and bat boxes, hedgehog holes in walls and fences, water features, planting native or wildlife-attracting trees, shrubs, wildflowers etc. In response to the petition, it would be suggested adding ‘Swift bricks’ to the list of examples.  This would be proposed as an amendment to the Draft Plan in the report to full Council on 14th December.


It was recognised that the provision of nest sites was an important factor in helping to boost swift numbers but it wasn’t felt appropriate to include a specific policy solely on swift bricks in the Local Plan because this would involve a level of detail that goes beyond what is appropriate in a statutory development plan.  A case could be made for having policies on the creation of habitats for any number of endangered species, so felt the appropriate approach was to have a general policy that required the inclusion of appropriate design features.  This meant the approach to biodiversity design features could be tailored on a site-by-site basis. Whilst acknowledging that other local authorities have included a specific policy on swift bricks, SCC were mindful of Government advice to avoid overly long plans.


Due to the complexity of planning issues and number of development sites in Sheffield, the Sheffield Plan was already lengthy.


In due course, it was intended to produce a supplementary planning document (SPD) on planning for biodiversity.  This would provide further guidance for developers on how biodiversity net gain requirements would be applied in Sheffield but envisaged it would also include more detailed advice on biodiversity design features, including, for example, Swift bricks.


The Chair agreed that ongoing dialogue should take place with the group and that it be a start of a relationship. The Director of Investment, Climate Change and Planning advised that there was an opportunity to explore further and would welcome more details. 




The Policy Committee received a petition “Crossing at junction of Birley Spa Lane and Jermyn Crescent”.  Jayne Mason attended the meeting and presented the petition to the committee.


The petitioners explained that they had created the petition as a way of getting a pedestrian crossing installed at the junction of Birley Spa Lane and Jermyn Crescent since a young boy was knocked over on there recently.  Historically there had been a school crossing patrol warden situation on Birley Spa Lane and is the only crossing point for pedestrians and is the main access for both primary schools in the area.  At present it is not recognised as a crossing area and was unfortunately the main crossing point for children, hence why a boy was knocked over.  There was limited signage in the area to highlight that there are schools in the area.  There used to be a school crossing patrol warden but not for the last 4 years.  The current signage only states crossing patrol but did not highlight the schools in the area and children crossing.  There was currently a vacancy for the crossing patrol warden and this had been vacant for quite some time.  The area was a main heavy bus route and had an issue with vehicles speeding.  The proposal was for a zebra crossing as the vacancy for a crossing patrol warden has not been filled, but they were aware that the request had been placed on a master list due to budgeting. Ms Mason also advised that they wanted it highlighting to drivers that it was a crossing point and to put some temporary measures in place in the meantime to make it safe for the children, such as making the road around to and leading up to the schools a 20mph zone and also to remove the school crossing patrol signs.  The crossing point was also used by the elderly and disabled.  It was advised that the local school Birley Spa Academy would also like to be involved with any extra safety measures put in place.


The Chair thanked the petitioners for bringing this issue to the committee.


The Chair stated that Ms Mason contacted the Transport Planning department directly in September and received a response directly from John Priestley.


As with all other requests, the request would be assessed in the next rounds of requests where it would then be considered, with the other assessed sites, when future programmes of work were being developed. We were not able to confirm at this time if and when any future works for a pedestrian crossing would be carried out at this location.


The Chair also advised that the council would be looking at how the council can accelerate the School Streets project and would like to see where this fits within that. The Chair also would like to understand how long the school crossing patrol role had been vacant and a written answer would be provided to this aspect.  The local ward councillor would also be made aware of the issue, so that they are able to get involved.  The Chair advised that he would be more than happy to come along and have a look with the local ward councillors to see how the area can be made safer.  To manage expectations, the Chair advised that requests such as these came from all over the City, with very similar issues. The Chair did say that outside of London, Sheffield was one of the worse areas for road accidents and fatalities within to 0–15-years age bracket.


The Chair gave a commitment that it would be assessed.


The Head of Sustainable Transport and Infrastructure advised that school crossing patrol wardens could be difficult to recruit to due to the pattern of the working hours.




The Policy Committee received a petition “Amendment to bollards on Ruby Lane Estate to prevent off road bikers”.  Samantha Nicholson attended the meeting and presented the petition to the committee.


Ms Nicholson explained that since the creation of Ruby Lane estate, the bollards between Redwood Lane and Westfield Crescent, whilst preventing cars from cutting through the estate, it did not prevent bikes from using this as a rat run.  Off road and illegal bikes were tearing through the estate day and night.  Miller Homes had refused to carry out any further work, so therefore the petition was brought to ask the council to look at the design of the bollards.  The bollards were not fit for purpose and padlocked down.


The Chair stated that the current site layout could be seen in the attached photos, gave a clear idea of what were being dealt with. 6no. bollards to block the highway, narrowing the footpaths either side.  The 4 in the highway were removable, this allowed access for emergency services and maintenance vehicles.


Due to the grassed area on the left, it was easy to get a car between the property and the bollard let alone a quadbike. So it was very easy for off road vehicles/motorbikes/cars to get through if they really wanted.


If another bollard was provided on the pavement to the left of the picture, unless the residents garden was fenced off then there would still be nothing to stop vehicles running through the area.


The estate was not yet adopted (checked 23.11.22) there was a significant snagging list that our Highways Development Team had given to Miller Homes and adoption was still likely to be some months away.


The Council would not consider any works while the estate is unadopted.


The council had notified local councillors and Clive Betts that even when adopted there was no easy solution here.  Bollards needed to have a minimum gap to allow legitimate users to access the area – pushchairs, cycles, mobility scooters etc.


The Chair advised that he was not familiar with the area but was happy to come and have a look.


The Head of Sustainable Transport and Infrastructure explained that lockable bollards used a standard key that the emergency services could unlock.  It was advised that the issues would be taken away and discussed with Highway Control colleagues but did say there would be a challenge in the design as areas needed to left open for all users to access, but this can bring anti-social behaviour.


The Chair also suggested talking to South Yorkshire Police regarding the anti-social behaviour, as they now had a unit that dealt with these issues.  The Chair advised that the petitioner would receive a fuller response in due course.




The Policy Committee received a petition “Safe Street – Crookes and Walkley”.  There was no speaker to this petition. The petition was noted, and the petitioner be provided with a written response in respect of the issue. 




The Policy Committee received 10 questions from 10 different members of the public. 5 members of the public did not attend the meeting to ask their question therefore would be provided with a written answer.




Question from: Jennifer Carpenter


The following question is asked on behalf of South Yorkshire Climate Alliance:


"The SCC Governance Committee Report dated 22 February 2022 on the Committee System Structure recommended in Section 6.2 that committees adopt an Engagement Toolkit to enhance public engagement, participation and communications.


With this expectation in mind, and in view of the high level of public engagement that will be necessary to successfully implement the decarbonisation route maps, will this Committee undertake to implement the Engagement Toolkit in respect of the route maps with immediate effect? This would aid its own objectives with the route maps,and would provide valuable learning for all the other SCC Committees."


The Chair agreed that public engagement would be crucial to the delivery of the decarbonisation route maps. The approach to engagement was to be discussed within the body of the report being presented today. The Council’s current approach was to use the LGA’s New Conversations Guide, which was the industry standard for Local Government. The Sustainability and Climate Team received training from Involve as part of their Local Climate Engagement Programme, and would also be using the framework and resources that this had provided, to deliver the best possible engagement within the available resources.




Question from: Anthony Wood

1)  Firstly, in recommendation d) Note that the resources identified in the Gateway to Sheffield LUF bid for the creation of development plots will be used in the first instance to make good two buildings on the Castle Site;   we have been informed at a consultation event that the two buildings referenced are the Mudford Building and Market Tavern, both of which are currently outside the defined envelope for the LUF funding and not a permissible use of this money.  We would like confirmation that the money currently being spent on the Market Tavern is not being drawn from the LUF fund and that no money will be drawn from it, until approved by the Department of Levelling UP, for any works outside the permitted envelope as this risks causing issues with the entire fund.

2)  Could we have confirmation on exactly what Recommendation E is, what the financial implications are and why this doesn’t get explained in the report?  “Note the exempt appendix 2 and authorise Officers to seek approval from the Department for Levelling Up Homes and Communities to relocate an element of the project to the Castle Site.”


3)  Could the Council please confirm that there will be no reduction in the funds for the public realm, deculverting (including re-naturalisation and fish passage) and archaeology as a result of diverting resources to the Market Tavern and Mudford Buildings? Can the relevant figures in Appendix 2 be shared with us to substantiate this?


4)  Could the Council also confirm whether discussions have been held with the Frehiwet Eritrean Restaurant and Andalus Community Centre, who currently occupy the Mudford building, and what the outcome of these discussions was?


5)  Could the Council also confirm whether the Market Tavern and/or the Mudford Building have been offered to S1 Arts, if so why is this not in the report and why were other community or arts projects such as those already in occupation in Castlegate, not also given an opportunity to bid for them as Council disposal policy would normally require?


The Chair stated in response to each point that:-


1)    The works were being funded by revenue and not from the LUF funds.


2)    The information in Appendix 2 was commercially sensitive and could not be revealed at present.


3)    There was no change in the budget for the public realm, deculverting and heritage. The funding identified for development plots would be used IF the buildings were included as a development plot and approved by DLUHC.


4)    Officers had met with the tenants of the Mudford building to discuss the repairs required to this building.  It was worth re-iterating that no decisions had been made on the future of these buildings,  just that options were being pursued.


5)    The buildings had not been offered to anyone, they were Council buildings and the intention was for them to remain in Council ownership.






Question from: Tawfek Ahmed

1.    Regarding Castle Street development, we are a charity and an existing occupier of Mudford's building since 2009, serving a large number of the community mainly vulnerable and disadvantaged people. On a daily basis through funded advice bureau that serves on average 700 beneficiaries every week, why we were not included on any consultations?

  1. Since 2009 we have committed large financial investment in the building, which has made the property watertight and useable as a community centre and advise bureau. 
  2. In this centre we managed to create and fund five full time advisors with the highest possible qualifications, experience and over 30 volunteers. what is your plan towards our projects and our property.
  3. will you give us a commitment that we will not be forced out of our building?  If not, are you aware of the impact on the particular section of the community that we serve? 

The Chair stated in response to each point raised that:


1.    Up until now the buildings were not proposed to be part of the levelling up fund proposals. Public consultation ran from the 7th-20th of November but it would have been better if your organisation had been invited to the Castlegate Partnership and this was an oversight for which we apologise.


2.    We understand your organisation has spent on the building and having met with you, Officers are working through the detail of this.  Nevertheless, there were still issues with the condition of the building that needed further discussion.


3.    No decisions had been made on the future of the building other than seeking permission form DHLUC to use Levelling Up Funds to make good the building.  The Council recognises the work that your organisation undertakes and the benefit it brings and are committed to ensuring a solution is found to safeguard the the activity carried out by your organisation in the Mudford building. We are equally keen to ensure that the condition of the building does not become a barrier to this delivery by ensuring work to make good this Council owned building is carried out.


4.    Securing the immediate future of the Andalus Community Centre is important to the Council, but the conditions of the building if not tackled are a threat to the activity in the building.  The future of the Community Centre could be either in a refurbished building once work has been carried out, (recognising that there may be a need to temporarily decant whilst works are undertaken) or in a different location in Castlegate.  The council are committed to working with the Community Centre to find a solution.