Thursday, February 9, 2023

News: Council leader addresses "believe it when I see it" jibes over Rotherham regeneration


The leader of Rotherham Council has addressed the all-too-common comments from constituents of "nothing ever gets better," "what a waste of money” and “it won't happen anyway” when it comes to regeneration projects in the borough, stating that things like new cinemas and theatres, "don’t just randomly drop from the sky" and have to be earned the hard way.

Cllr. Chris Read was speaking at the recent launch of the updated Rotherham Together Partnership plan at the University Centre Rotherham (UCR).

Rothbiz reported this week on Rotherham Council's new place-based investment strategy which sets out priorities for using funding across the borough up to 2025 and beyond.

The document captures already announced schemes such as the £45m leisure-led development of Forge Island, the £31m redevelopment of the markets complex, the £27m cultural quarter around Corporation Street and the £12m of investment into new housing along the riverside. Multimillion pound transport schemes are also underway at Parkgate and Magna.

Going beyond 2025, a new theatre is included in the strategy and has been given an investment figure of c.£28m.

Cllr. Read talked about the projects underway but also of the comments he receives such as "nothing ever changes" and “I’ll believe it when I see it with my own eyes.”

Read said: "For too long, that logic of “nothing ever gets better” has been too prominent in the conversations we have.

"I’ve got saved on my phone a screenshot of the comment posted on Facebook when we announced the building of this UCR [the £10.5m university centre opened on Doncaster Gate in 2018]. It simply said; “What a waste of money.” I’m guessing no one thinks that now.

"But, why were we the last place in South Yorkshire to get an HE skills centre like this? Why will we be the last to have a cinema?

"Too often, the conversation is caught between “it won’t happen anyway” and “it should have happened already,” as if progress is made magically, without anyone ever having to take a chance, have a go, spend some money – or frankly make some mistakes.

"Progress may well just be taken for granted when it’s achieved, but it has to be earned the hard way in the first place.

"The Forge Island debate looked exactly like that: we’ve waited sixty years or more for that development. People rightly look at our neighbours and ask why we can’t have facilities like Barnsley’s Glassworks or Doncaster’s Cast. Then they’re horrified to discover that gems like those don’t just randomly drop from the sky."

Last year, Rotherham Council agreed to fund the Forge Island regeneration scheme itself when the the funding available its delivery partner, Muse, "significantly reduced" due to the volatility of the financial markets. The authority said it would save nearly £50m compared to an externally funded deal drafted in 2018. Work is underway in site with Bowmer & Kirkland bagging the £33.9m construction contract.

Images: Rotherham Labour


Anonymous,  February 9, 2023 at 12:14 PM  

Excluding borough sizes and populations, the town of Rotherham is larger than both Barnsley and Doncaster. These things should have happened years ago. The council complains of lack of funds but has wasted/is wasting thousands on ludicrously repaving Frederick Street and Howard Street. Ridiculous people.

Anonymous,  February 9, 2023 at 3:50 PM  

Exactly,point I make often, Rotherham town population is bigger than Barnsley and Doncaster,Rotherham met borough population is bigger than Barnsley,and it's only outlying village that make Doncaster borough population bigger.It dost help that Rotherham is so close to Sheffield,but can't help but feel that Rotherham council as accepted this for many years and automatically think Rotherham people can use other towns facilities,it's long over due that we have our own,were a large town not a little country parish.Same goes regards Rotherham s apparent fear of building anything over 5 storeys high,they even use cobblers about not wanting to block view of minster!fgs

Ziggy,  February 9, 2023 at 4:29 PM  

I wouldn't mind a reply from him to "do pop up parks randomly shoot up (or in this case not) and waste £1M?"

Believe in Rotherham. February 9, 2023 at 4:57 PM  

This Labour cabinet is moving things forward,and yes they will happen I'm sure of it.People need to stop the negative comments and get behind this and the labour cabinet because i can assure you the Conservatives in opposition want none of this and want Rotherham town to die.

Anonymous,  February 9, 2023 at 5:02 PM  

Hopefully these plans do deliver and the town can start moving in the right direction. Lets hope the new theatre finally happens!

Anonymous,  February 9, 2023 at 5:53 PM  

Its very disingenuous and takes a special sort of brass neck from Chris Read to say that Rotherham has been waiting for Forge Island for 60 years and then to blame the people, the electorate, for not getting behind his spin.

Firstly 60 years waiting for Forge Island? That is complete and utter tosh. I think most people in the 1980s were quite excited when Hillards supermarket arrived! They were less impressed when RMBC sacrificed our library so that Tesco could shut down the last remnants of Rotherham's retail offering.

Nothing gets better, because nothing ever happens. And when it does happen, nine times out ten it's the wrong decision at the wrong time, for the wrong reasons.

The only thing that's common across Rotherham since 1974 when the borough was created has been the abject failure of successive Labour councillors to do anything meaningful to improve the state of our town.

There is a reason why there is cynicism about any message spewed out by RMBC and its a simple one. Rotherham Council has a bit of form in not finishing projects.

What do the renaissance scheme, the High Street pocket park, Forge Island, and countless other schemes have in common? Answer: They were started but never finished, and no-one held RMBC to account.

RMBC has frittered away millions on pounds in public money playing monopoly with the town centre, to the cost of local businesses.

The Bramley one way system was built the wrong way round... What did RMBC do to correct it? Absolutely diddly squat.

The way the Doncaster Gate hospital site, paid for by citizens of the borough, was swept away was nothing other than a disgrace. Yes, I agree Cllr Read, it is good that there's a higher education college in Rotherham. Of course it is. But did you really have to knock down such a beautiful historic building to achieve it? Of course you didn't.

Is that enough reasons Cllr Read why no-one trusts a word you say? or shall I go on?

Places like Barnsley & Doncaster have a clear vision where they want to be, what they want to achieve, and do you know what? It's working. Compare that with bile spewed out by our local authority and there's no wonder the town is in such a sorry state. Even Doncaster, which for many years has followed RMBCs pattern of demolish and replace when it comes to heritage sites managed to combine with old with the new on sites like the old girl's high school. Repurposing its heritage and finding new solutions.

In contrast, Rotherham's policy of demolish, and pay lip service to regeneration is nothing short of scandalous. There are no winners apart from those in the pockets of RMBC. Yet, on we go again. More false promises, more things that start with a wrecking ball and end with another big hole in the town centre.

It doesn't and shouldn't have to be like this.

Sensible town planners recognise that town centres bring together people, are easy to access and have housing, retail and leisure. Rotherham has none of these things. The council's vision? Shove up a load of flats, out with the shops and gamble on Forge Island.

There is no vision, there is no ambition, it's just the same old empty promises RMBC have been churning out for decades.

Well, Cllr Read. Put this post on your tax payer funded mobile and smoke it.

Nothing gets better because you and your comrades have destroyed everything that this once proud town stood for. Nationally, Rotherham is a laughing stock and continuing to make yet more promises that you haven't got a cat in hells chance of delivering is probably one of the reasons why there is suspicion and mistrust about policies like this.

But remember folks, it's our fault that Rotherham is such a clusterf*ck, because we have the gumption not to trust at face value everything RMBC tells us.

Anonymous,  February 9, 2023 at 7:39 PM  

LOL@ the comment about the labour party! I think their record of 60 years of abject failure (according to Chris Read anyway) speaks volumes.

Anonymous,  February 9, 2023 at 8:09 PM  

Nice rant,but not based on truth.
Was this written by a conservative.
This labour cabinet has stepped up,do you really think a conservative led council will improve Rotherham,I can assure you that the Conservatives in the council do not care about the town,not one of them lives in the town and I can tell you now that they what the town to die they are against all regeneration in the town.
Of course the town needs leisure facilities it will bring people in and I'd you don't think it will unfortunately you have no idea what you are talking about.

Anonymous,  February 9, 2023 at 11:22 PM  

It was actually written by someone who has no political affiliations, or aspirations. (I should know, I wrote it!).

Please correct any factual inaccuracies I have made, I'd be more than happy to discuss them with you point by point.

But how you can say the cabinet has stepped up is beyond me.

Rotherham's regeneration projects are barely off the drawing board, when our neighbours completed theirs decades ago and now reaping the rewards.

I don't deny that its a step in the right direction, but I'm not going to give them a pat on the back for trying to solve a problem that was ultimately caused by their doing, or to be more precise, lack of doing. I don't blame the cabinet entirely for that, I think the civil servants have got to shoulder the lions share of the blame.

Should their achievements be celebrated because someone, somewhere has made a decision? No, of course not.

I agree about the leisure facilities too. We had a wonderful facility once upon a time that provided a home for all sorts of sports. It was used for activities as diverse as rock concerts and antique shows, bringing in people far and wide. It was called Herringthorpe Leisure Centre and owned entirely by RMBC. I'm sure you know the rest. The fact that the facility which replaced it was 50% smaller despite it's more central location tells me all I need to know about the impact of a broader leisure offer will have on the town centre. The Doncaster Dome, Ponds Forge and even the Metrodome all still do this.

Now think about what we've got in Rotherham and tell me I'm wrong.

Anonymous,  February 10, 2023 at 1:00 AM  

Yeah of course course they do,and what exactly have labour done for us,other than cover up abuse of thousands of young girls so as not to lose there Pakistani vote!

Anonymous,  February 10, 2023 at 1:04 AM  

Stepped up!!Don't make me laugh,What like they stepped upto protect young girls,we know how that went, labour councillors upto there necks some even actually involved in the abuse!

Anonymous,  February 10, 2023 at 5:12 PM  

And we're back to the usual "if anyone disagrees with my complaints or negativity about Rotherham drag up the Child abuse scandal" this is becoming tiresome.

Anonymous,  February 10, 2023 at 7:07 PM  

My favorite but is "I’ve got saved on my phone a screenshot of the comment posted on Facebook when we announced the building of this UCR [the £10.5m university centre opened on Doncaster Gate in 2018]. It simply said; “What a waste of money.” I’m guessing no one thinks that now.

Nope we all still do it's pointless and you knocked a lovely building down to build this white elephant.

Anonymous,  February 10, 2023 at 7:09 PM  

Labour had stepped up they have been in power for many decades, what were they doing before they stepped up, there is no excuse in stepping up when you have been in charge for years. this council has run town into ground, and this bloke is another who has no respect for electorate

Anonymous,  February 11, 2023 at 1:13 AM  

Says the obvious labour voter!Should hang your head in shame!

Anonymous,  February 13, 2023 at 9:02 AM  

Can’t disagree with any of that, especially about the old leisure centre, there are whole generations of people that have had to make do with 2nd rate facilities, it’s long after time the town had something worthwhile!

Anonymous,  February 13, 2023 at 9:31 AM  

On a brighter note the old M&S store in Parkgate is being converted to a Poundshop. Now there's real progress for you.

Anonymous,  February 13, 2023 at 12:03 PM  

"On a brighter note the old M&S store in Parkgate is being converted to a Poundshop. Now there's real progress for you." Sums up Rotherham and one of the many reasons why come the summer hopefully I'll be living in another borough

Anonymous,  February 13, 2023 at 4:06 PM  

If Rotherham is as bad as you all say why are you still here? Why don't you move to Barnsley, Doncaster etc. since you all sing their praises?

Anonymous,  February 13, 2023 at 8:18 PM  

Because it's our town we have right to complain.

Anonymous,  February 14, 2023 at 10:56 PM  

Have you complained to the Council or your MP? Have you attended any of the consultations? Moaning in the comments on this website will do nothing to address your complaint.

Anonymous,  February 16, 2023 at 8:47 PM  

To right we do,Shame so many brain-dead in Rotherham who continue to vote for the corrupt idiots!

Anonymous,  February 17, 2023 at 3:31 PM  

Your brain may not be dead but it is surely on life support

Anonymous,  February 17, 2023 at 3:36 PM  

One can but hope. Ta ta

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