Joint responses from Sheffield Lib Dem Leader Cllr Shaffaq Mohammed, Barnsley Lib Dem Leader Cllr Hannah Kitching and Rotherham Lib Dem Leader Cllr Adam Carter
" We like many people and Businesses in South Yorkshire want to ensure that people are kept as safe as possible and disruption to our lives and business are kept proportionate to the challenge we face. It is therefore disappointing that the criteria that Dan Jarvis has set both for going into and then coming out of the very high category he still hasn't made public.
People and businesses need to see and understand this so we can all plan. The real key to dealing with this virus until a vaccine is produced is not stop and start blanket lockdowns but a comprehensive and local test trace and isolate system that can take swift and targeted action to test and isolate individuals who have virus and swiftly trace their contacts who may be positive.
We are pleased the Gov't have handed over £41 million, including £11 million for public health measures including “Test, Trace & Isolate” and responsibility to the Mayor & local Councils leaders to implement this. We encourage that a “Test, Trace & Isolate” system is the number one priority to be set up urgently as it will get us out of the very high category the fastest, keep local infection rates down and stop the need for such a wide blanket lockdown again in South Yorkshire.
We know this will be a worrying and anxious time for many and we will do our bit to get South Yorkshire through this and push for that local test trace and isolate system so we can keep us as safe as possible and get businesses back to supporting our economy and jobs "
Sheila Weber of the Barnsley Chronicle joined a councillor and a Police special sergeant on an evening patrol .
I joined Cllr Greenhough and Special Sgt Tom Burns on an evening patrol to assess the situation with local youngsters who are often criticised for unruly behaviour and drug-taking.
Setting off from the police station we aimed for places young people are known to gather. But as we left, Sgt Burns made dear: "Generally, they are very good kids in Penistone. People don't realise how lucky they are compared to other areas."
We start with the skate park. There is a small group and one or two scoot as we approach.
Coun Greenhough asks if they think there is enough for them to do. No, is the answer. "We just sit outside Tesco a lot of the time." said one lad.
Cllr Greenhough told them: "There could be pots of money coming our way if we can find a use for it'
The lad said; "We want somewhere where we won't be told to move on.
A youth club which meets at the community centre was considered 'too childish'. "No-one would go," said one girl.
Next it's the Market Barn, frequently cited at meetings between police and community as a problem area. It is quiet.
We move on to the Trans Pennine Trail near the community centre.
A large group is gathered there and Coun Greenhough asks what they think of Penistone. An unprintable response provokes laughter. They say the youth club, which meets Wednesdays and Thursdays, has nothing to offer. "So what is on your wish list?" asked Coun Greenhough.
“ A shelter with wi-fi and possibly heating. , It's not always warm. That is all we want. We used to go to the Market Barn when it had wi-fl. There was nowhere else to go."
"Go there then," said Coun Greenhough. "Just take responsibility for it and don't make a mess or cause trouble."
Sgt Burns likes the idea of a heated shelter. "Why not?" he said. The teenager added: "They say we are anti-social, but if you come and talk to us we are okay.
Don't be intimidated by us."
"That is the right approach," said Coun Greenhough.
The rail station is empty. Sgt Burns says a heater was removed from a shelter on the platform after damage.
Lastly we go to what is known as the `fire pit' off Manchester Road. Again it is empty. But the remote area has a large crater.
'This is a remote area where anything could happen, but l have gone through items left here and have never found any trace of hard drugs or needles. The environmental firm Twiggs have also told me they have never found any evidence of drugs in all the areas where they have been clearing up. "Kids have to go somewhere and if they are not hurting anyone I have no problem with them congregating somewhere like this."
Later, Cllr Greenhough said the patrol had highlighted the fact that people's perception of Penistone against the reality are two very different things',
"The young people we met were pleasant and engaging and there was no sign of anti-social behaviour at all," he said. "It spells out that people like Penistone because it is a nice area and the youth are part of that."
He said as part of the upcoming Principal Towns Initiative there are things councillors and other agencies should be able to do. "A chunk of this money should be going to young people's initiatives encouraging them to be part of the community rather than separate to it," he said. "They are residents too." And he said there will be more such patrols. "I am looking to repeat this in the autumn and keep it as an ongoing thing," he said. "We need constant engagement and I am keen to talk to as many young people as I can. But it is a multi-agency thing too with organisations like Penistone Grammar School keen to get on board."
From Barnsley Chronicle Living August 23, no online link available
A NEW school could be built near a notorious crossroads where traffic congestion is already at breaking point, it has been claimed this week.
two sites on Broadway, Kingstone, have been identified as preferred options for the 900-pupil secondary school, Trinity Academy.
It is due to open in 2021 and has been approved by the Department for Education after a successful bid was made by Halifax-based Trinity Multi-Academy Trust (MAT).
The free faith school will specialise in maths and science, supported by the Church of England Diocese of Leeds, catering for 11 to 16-year-olds.
However, its location has come under the spotlight this week after Lib Dem Coun Peter Fielding, who represents the Dodworth ward, revealed two sites on Broadway are being discussed.
Coun Fielding has called on planners to utilise space closer to the town centre in order to make better use of its transport links.
He added: “I’m told the school will be built on one of two empty sites on Broadway, an area which already has a big school - Horizon - nearby and the ongoing saga affecting Penny Pie Park and the council’s desire to create a new one-way road system very near to where this school would be.
“The school is due to open in 2021 - can you imagine the chaos there would be for traffic in the coming two years when there’s that, Horizon and of course the new road to contend with?
“If Broadway is chosen, there would be a huge public backlash once again as we have seen with Penny Pie Park, not only because it’s not suitable but also there’s the fact that another playing field will be lost.
Lib Dem Cllr has pointed out that Barnsley councils plans to build a 146-home estate in a ‘toxic air zone’ a stone’s throw off the M1 motorway will put residents’ health at risk.
Persimmon Homes, the developer behind the planning application, outlined its bid for the land off Keresforth Road, Dodworth, in April last year but concerns over its preferred access route - via a cul-de-sac on Bark Meadows - have delayed a decision.
A field earmarked for recreation - which borders the planned housing site - is being looked at as an alternative route in, which would also result in two boarded-up council houses being demolished.
The scheme is set to be discussed by ruling cabinet members later this month, but Coun Peter Fielding has expressed concerns about the site being ‘unfit’ for people to live on due to its close proximity to the M1.
Coun Fielding said: “Persimmon’s proposed development adjacent to junction 37 causes me great concern as more than half of the site is within an ‘air quality management area’ which was declared due to the poor air quality created by traffic.
“Why are we even considering building new homes for people to live in an area that is known to have air that is so polluted that adverse health effects are almost inevitable and where there are no available options to protect occupants from the pollution?
“There is ample available evidence to demonstrate the effects of poor air quality on health, particularly on vulnerable groups, and that body of evidence is increasing all the time so it would be inexcusable if this development was permitted against the council’s stated policies.”
Barnsley Council insists there is no viable option other than to install a ring road around Penny Pie Park, almost five hectares of open ground off Dodworth Road where an existing crossroads has become a congestion blackspot.
But the project, which has already been approved and given planning permission, provoked fierce opposition with campaigner Peter Fielding elected as a Lib Dem councillor in May.
Cllr Fielding said the Save Penny Pie Park group would take legal advice on whether to challenge the council with a Judicial Review if the decision is taken push ahead with development.
“They are fully intending to push ahead with a Judicial Review and will start a crowd funding exercise,” he said.
RESIDENTS reporting antisocial behaviour say they were left waiting more than two hours on the police’s under-fire 101 phone system last week in Darton.
Coun Steve Hunt said: “I am extremely disappointed that the police were not able to support the local community in Darton during these serious incidents of antisocial behaviour.
“This left local residents feeling completely abandoned. Being unable to get through on the 101 service within a reasonable timescale is completely unacceptable. Some were left waiting 30 minutes on Thursday.
Councillor Peter Fielding, who represents the Dodworth ward, urged highways bosses to go back to the drawing board given the huge public backlash the scheme has had.
“We amassed a huge petition and hundreds of written objections originally before the plan was approved, but we have had more than 100 more to the latest consultation,” he told the Chronicle.
“Penny Pie Park is clearly treasured and it needs to be maintained for future generations to enjoy.
“We’re urging the council to go back to the drawing board as the scheme is very much against the public’s wishes.
“There are multiple concerns about air pollution, road safety and traffic before you even mention about the carving up of a much-loved park.
Coun Roy Miller refused to answer questions on the council’s proposed £4.3m scheme for Dodworth Road and chiefly the future of Penny Pie Park - the popular greenspace which would be carved up to make way for the new carriageway - at last week’s full council meeting.
The Lib Dem group on Barnsley Council asked a series of questions about the Labour run councils spending on hospitality, flights and hotel bills when the full council met, with answers provided showing a total spend of just under £1.5m.