This is not the normal public sector bashing post that you'd read in The Daily Mail, but there is a problem in Sheffield at the moment that needs to be addressed.
COVID has been difficult for all of us, but some have had it a little easier than others.
Sheffield Theatres for example have been quick to point out how generous their customers have been by donating their refunds back to the theatre to help them keep going. They then announced a £700K Arts Council grant, just six days before announcing that they were closing down until Easter and making hundreds redundant. Wait, what? What happened to the almost three quarters of a million quid that you just banked? We know that it is hard to make things work at the moment, but that is what most of us are trying to do. We don't have the luxury of massive grants, we need to graft and adapt. Sheffield Theatres are supposed to be creative types, yet their first plan of action is to roll up into a ball. Well what about the cafes, hotels, restaurants, taxis, bus drivers, pubs etc that rely on the trade that the theatres bring in? What happens to them whilst the public sector protects Theatre Chief Execs? What about the fact that as we attempt to reassure our kids that things are getting towards normal, the cosseted and protected folk of Tudor Square shut down Panto and ask us to let them keep our money?
To City Hall, Pond's Forge and the Arena. They used to be run by an outfit called SIV who trousered £2m of public money just recently, then changed their name to SCT in the hope that we would forget. So, with all that dough in the bank everything should be rosy no? No.
Much like the theatres they've made all the plebs redundant and asked us to give them a knock at Easter to see if they can be bothered reopening. Now, unlike the Theatres, SCT are not a producing house, they take in shows that others produce. Therefore all the people who would usually put shows into their venues who have worked hard to put plans together to produce shows at 30% capacity are hamstrung as SCT won't even unlock the buildings. Once again, no shows means no taxis needed, no hotels, no meals out, no quick pint in the pub after, no spending. They are strangling us with their greed.
Government guidance since August 15th is that venues can open within certain guidelines. The Theatres and SCT just can't be bothered, and have used the opportunity to divest themselves of staff who, in SCT's case, they felt they were paying too much for under TUPE rules.
Pond's Forge. Shut. Until further notice. This is a building that has produced 21 Olympians in recent years, yet SCT, with its highly paid management team can't work out how to open it. Well they should. These are not their buildings, they are ours, we paid for them and they run them on our behalf.
It's almost as if the council are letting them get away with it, but why would that be, Well to answer that question we could go a little further up the tree and ask one of the Directors of 7Hills Leisure Trust, the charity that administers SCT. That director is Neale Gibson, who has four different names registered with Companies House so it's not always easy to see which pies he has fingers in. However, the fact that he is a Sheffield City Councillor is a bobby dazzler.
We just want to see Sheffield working again. Safely, distanced, but working.