A Burngreave Road resident has won the fight to save his garage, which was under threat of demolition under the Masterplan for Catherine Street.
Mr Zulfkhar Ali was informed in November 2005 that his private garage was not involved in any redevelopment plans for Catherine Street, but in late March 2006 he was told it was in the plan for redevelopment and demolition. Mr Ali then strongly objected to the East Regeneration Team. “I was not given any specific reason as to why my garage was being knocked down,” said Mr Ali. He later read to his amazement the Sheffield City Council cabinet report dated 25th January 2006 which stated:
“This garage has been reported in the local press as attracting nuisance from drug activities and its inclusion in the redevelopment proposals would make for a more coherent development.”
Mr Ali is very annoyed that the East Regeneration Team Manager did not tell him about this report, neither were he or his family given a chance to be involved in any consultation prior to the submission of this document.
“Since the pub has gone there has still been a real issue with drugs here that has made our lives a misery. Since those flats were built they have created this drug issue from day one and everyone knows the flats are the problem.This has nothing to do with my family or our property.”
Another local resident confirmed that the flats were the problem. Jennifer Booth who lives opposite Mr Ali’s garage, told the Messenger:
“There’s always an ambulance or a police car outside the flats, and people have even asked me to sell them drugs when I’ve walked past. But it’s not the garage that causes it.”
Brian Somerson, joint chief executive of Arches Housing on Catherine Street, concurs with Mr Ali: “I am not aware of any drug dealing in the garage,” he said. “There’s nothing coming from Arches Housing either. We have had a guy in one of the Catherine Street houses who found a load of needles in a bin, but any drug problems were a year or so ago. We haven’t seen anything recently as far as I’m aware.”
Mr Ali has now received a letter informing him that his garage is no longer in the redevelopment plan and offering an apology. When the Messenger rang the East Regeneration team for a statement they admitted that, yes, they had made a mistake.
“Mr Ali contacted us on 4th May, I met with him on 8th May and the following week I sent him the letter. Before that we had nothing to go on, but when he put in his objections, we did act.When we said that there were anti-social behaviour problems, any reports of drug use absolutely did not imply he was complicit in that. It was not written to imply that, but if that is how he feels then I absolutely offer an apology.”
Mr Ali still wants answers. “The main thing for me is why was it put in? They never said anything to me about it before they put it in their report. This apology doesn’t change the fact that this drug allegation is still there in the report,” he said.
“I would like that to be taken out of the report; not only taken out, but brought to the attention of councillors that it has been put in there as fact. I would ask councillors to look into it and ask East Regeneration where they got their information from.
“I want a public apology, because it was published publicly on the internet. Tomorrow it could be someone else.They should bring East Regeneration to some kind of account.”
by Jennifer McKiernan and Rob Smith