• Paul Bell

Selling our cultural heritage is a betrayal



You may find it odd that I am writing about Sheffield Central Library. But Sheffield is the city where I was born. It is a special place but under severe attack not just from the Conservative Government, but also from neo-liberals selling our heritage to foreign investors who could use the “Made in Sheffield” brand to profit, even though countless generations of working-class steel workers laboured – often at great cost – only to be rewarded by the destruction of what was once a world-class industry.

Now Sheffield is being sold and betrayed. It is being bought by Guodong UK Limited (Guodong). Why? That is a good question. Local residents believe it is also to use the “Made in Sheffield” brand to support the Chinese steel industry. I have nothing to support that argument, but it is not the first time I’ve heard it from local residents.

So why am I passionate about a library I now infrequently use and a city I no longer live in? Well, it is part of me. Growing-up not knowing I was dyslexic, often proved very difficult going to one of the best state schools in the area. Being poor and working-class was forced down my neck everyday at school and I had to hide. My only comfort and aid was Firth Park Library, but more importantly, Sheffield Central Library. This was because I needed variety in a daily existence so much designed by poverty than anything else. Travelling there, studying there – in the reference library on 1st floor – gave me an environment where I could concentrate. It gave me a sense of calm in a household that was anything but calm. It enabled me to build the foundations of a decent career and help with severe confidence issues.

More than this, it is a cultural asset that the current caretakers of Sheffield City Council have no right to sell. The people of Sheffield own it. Past and present. Just yesterday, while working in the library for 3 hours, I saw countless numbers of people coming and going, using the services and asking the hard-working staff for assistance. They, and us, will be excluded from our own heritage when it is sold to become a 5-star hotel. Where the working class will only be allowed in to clean the toilets or doth the cap. This is our library.

So, if there are people who have some connection with Sheffield, please sign the petition here: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-sheffield-central-library.

If you live in Sheffield, write, visit and demand councillors and MPs resist this cultural desecration. And don’t get me started about the trees!

#Sheffield #SheffieldCityCouncil #SheffieldCentralLibrary #Culture #Sellingourculture

© 2020 Paul Bell. All views are my own, unless otherwise stated