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News: ‘We will fight back against the government to save our EMA’ say students - P3

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BURNGREAVE PITSMOOR FIR VALE

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Man died after diving to depths that he was not qualified for Page 4

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2011

Reagan Denton: ‘Drugs, money and women bred a monster in me’ Page 5

Lib-Dem Ministers will profit out of money earmarked for local community

Exposed: Scandal of New Deal £1m property auction

By Andrew Wheeldon

EXCLUSIVE THE GOVERNMENT will be the biggest winners out of Burngreave’s 10 year regeneration scheme if Sorby House has to be sold in April. The building was purchased for £4.5 million as part of the Burngreave New Deal for Communities (BNDfC) programme but the building could be sold for as little as £1 million. If this is the case, the Government could claw back the money from the sale – money that could have been directly spent on the community. As part of the deal, any money that is not spent by 31st March must be returned to the government, and experts warn that the building will be very difficult to sell before this date, given the current economic climate. At the moment, New Deal can only keep proceeds from selling assets if they are reinvested in ‘capital projects’ such as parks or community centres- but from April, any remaining money can be clawed back by the government. BNDfC’s Executive Manager, Jeremy Diskin told The Mail, “The Council are now key for the scheme – they’ve got two choices; either they support us and bail Burngreave out or they walk away quite happily and see what happens to Burngreave from afar. “We need to know their decision soon, because its going to be tough to sell the building. More should have been done to regenerate Spital Hill as Sorby House isn’t in the most desirable place for businesses.” It seems unlikely that Sheffield City

Losing money: Sorby House (above) may be sold in April Council will take on the running costs of the building given its budget cuts and the unattractive proposal of taking on a lossmaking facility. Sorby House is currently only 46% occupied and is running at a loss of £60,000 a year. Diskin added, “The proper advice wasn’t taken. The building was bought

on the agreement that organisations would rent rooms. The market was strong at the time and New Deal rushed into it. Many of these agreements never went through. They should have been signed before a stone was turned.’ It will be a cruel blow for residents of

the area who have seen Burngreave move from a bottom 50 UK ward to an area where employment has risen by almost a quarter in the last five years. Ex Councillor Ibrar Hussein said, “I have been a local resident in this area for 32 years and I don’t want the deal to go this way. It is ridiculous that we are in

this position? “I do not want to have given my time for the money to go on pensions. Why couldn’t the money just be spent on the community?” What Deal? What went went wrong wrong for for the NewNew Deal? Find Find out out at at www.burngreavemail.co.uk www.burngreavemail.co.uk

Burngreave New Deal for Communities Timeline: The highs and lows of a £52 million scheme March 2001: Burngreave selected as one of 39 UK wards to benefit from New Deal for Communities scheme which saw them receive £52 million over 10 years.

June 2008: Chief executive John Clark sacked after appointing Bill Husband as deputy chief despite knowing that he had been sacked previously for gross misconduct from a New Deal in London

June 2008: Sorby House opens after a £4.5 million refurbishment

June 2008: New Deal announce that all funding stopped two years early after it is announced that they have spent all of the £52 million

February 2010: It is revealed that Sorby House is running at a loss of £60,000 a year and may have to be sold at a cut price.


Burngreave Mail, Wednesday February 9, 2011

Mail News

www.burngreavemail.co.uk

Gym helps teenagers who are ‘no strangers to criminal justice system’

‘Dynamite’ Denton steps in the ring to save boxing club By Andrew Wheeldon THE BURNGREAVE Amateur Boxing Club has been saved from the brink of shutting down for the second time in as many months. Professional boxer Reagan ‘Dynamite’ Denton, 31 has taken over running the club with the backing of one of Sheffield’s biggest boxing trainers, Glyn Rhodes. Reagan vows to build on the work of former owner Ross Burkinshaw who has passed over the gym in a bid to focus on his boxing and army career. “I am telling you now, this gym will be the biggest and best in Sheffield. I’ve got the hunger and so has everyone here” said Reagan. “We have even got professionals training here now as well as kids off the streets. We are like one big family” As well as running the gym, Reagan is also training for his first competitive fight since 2006 when he will take on James Tucker at St. Paul’s Hotel in Sheffield on 26th March. The club, which runs sessions from 4 – 8 on weekdays, and 10 – 2 on Saturday’s is suitable for everyone regardless of gender, ability, race or fitness. “Women are welcome any time to this gym. Some like to train on the punch bags with the men whereas others prefer to come to our women’s sessions. “It is the same with race. We don’t discriminate -black, white or Asian, this is everybody’s gym’ said Reagan. The takeover means a DentonRhodes collaboration for the first time in 11 years, when the pair became estranged through the fighter’s search of money and fame. “I got a bit too big for my boots. Glyn is a humble person and I was driving Ferrari’s and living the dream in America. “Glyn was thinking about my career but I got wrapped up in other people’s lifestyle and it bred a monster in me.”

Reagan was quick to stress how important a boxing gym is for and area like Burngreave. ‘Pitsmoor is the ghetto of Sheffield and gyms like this get the kids off the streets. “A lot of them haven’t had a good education and all they’ve got is their mind and their muscle. It gives them somewhere to let all that aggression out. “We have got lads who are excluded from school. If it wasn’t for this gym they would probably on the streets taking drugs. “It’s not just about the kids though. Adults have troubles too and it helps to give them direction as well.” The gym has helped turn several teenagers’ lives around and give them a focus in life, many of whom are no strangers to the criminal justice system. 20-year-old Billy Broughton told The Mail, “I started boxing two years ago, after stopping weight-lifting because of injury. I’m boxing some time this season in my first fight. “There has been lots of trouble in this area. This is a place where kids can express their anger. If this gym wasn’t here, I would probably be on the streets. “I was a yob and I used to go around the streets terrorising people and pinching cars. “One night I was at the police station and my Dad came and slapped me and it knocked sense in to me. From then on I’ve done nothing wrong and have just been going to gyms and training.” At £3 a session or £8 for the week it offers an affordable hobby for the people of Burngreave. The gym has been refurbished and fitted with brand new punch bags and rowing machines. Gloves and head guards are also available to borrow. The gym is located on 40 Earsham Street and for more information contact Reagan on 07776 116 198.

WHAT HAPPENED WHEN LEE MET UP WITH DYNAMITE DENTON? - Page 5

Boxers (above) at the gym during a fitness session

Boxers (above) during a gruelling sparring session

Residents fight for mother to stay in UK By Andrew Wheeldon HUNDEREDS OF Burngreave residents have pleaded with the government to stop a Nigerian-born mother of three from being deported. Mildred Okpara, 25 now knows that every day she wakes up could be her last in the United Kingdom. A petition has been signed by more than 350 people in an attempt to overturn the decision made by the UK Boarder Agency last month. Mildred fled her home in West Africa with her children after her husband was abducted and brutally murdered for failing to join a rebel movement. After moving to Burngreave in 2005, Mildred has established herself as a valuable member of the community whilst her asylum bid was assessed. She has become a firm favourite on Sheffield Live community radio and was given an award in 2009 for her services to the community, by the City of Sanctuary campaign. Children from St. Catherine’s school where Mildred’s children, Adaku and Enoch attend have also joined the campaign, creating a banner with a list of reasons why

Campaigners, (above) protest outside Sheffield Town Hall

the Okpara’s should be allowed to stay. Headteacher Fiona Rigby said “The children have produced a banner, where they have drawn round their hands and written messages of support for the family. “This family plays a big role in the school and they have a lot of support here. “Sheffield is home to the children now. The youngest was born here and Adaku and Enoch have lived here nearly all their lives. Mildred’s case to remain in the UK is reminiscent of the Burngreave Mail’s coverage of Annociate Nimpagaritse in 2008. The Burundi born woman was deported after failing to gain asylum. The charity worker, who like Mildred was just 25, lived in Burngreave and spent her time volunteering, studying English and signing in a Church choir. She gained the support of the area with campaigners even protesting outside Nick Clegg’s office. Over 1000 people signed a petition in a last ditch effort to keep Annociate in the UK. Although the campaign was unsuccessful the effort to keep valuable members of the community in the area was clearly evident. A spokesman for the Home Office said that it does not comment on specific cases.

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Banned drink driver given prison term

A HOMELESS mechanic who pleaded guilty to being nearly three times over the drink driving limit has been sent to prison for four months. Brian Palmer, 41 of Oaks Lane, Firth Park also pleaded guilty to driving whilst disqualified and driving without insurance. Palmer was arrested on Queens Road at a time when he was already disqualified from driving, Mr Marshall, prosecuting, told the court. Mr Foster, defending, said, “This is an intelligent man who has fallen on hard times due to the recession and some bad choices. “Credit must be given for pleading guilty at the first possible opportunity.” Palmer rubbed his face and muttered, “what have I done” as the verdict was read out. District Judge Browne told Palmer: “This cannot continue. You are going to kill someone if you don’t stop. “You need to learn a lesson. I am imposing a four months prison sentence and am banning you from driving for a further three years.”

Thug took knife to ‘sort out’ family dispute A CONVICTED football hooligan who was caught in possession of a knife whilst walking round to his sister’s house to confront her over a family feud has appeared before Sheffield Magistrate’s Court today. Paul Askham of Windmill Lane, Wincobank, pleaded guilty to the possession of a six inch kitchen knife on 3rd January and will be sentenced at a later date. The 39 year-old had gone to visit his sister, Anna Askham at Kinnaird Place, Shiregreen to discuss a dispute about the care of their mother, Miss Fisher, prosecuting, told the court. Police were called to the scene by Mr Askham’s nephew, Kyle Wood after it was realised that a knife was present. Mr Askham, who had drunk six pints of lager earlier that day was then arrested. The tension came to a head because Mr Askham, who is the full-time carer of his mother, felt that his sister had not had enough contact with their mother over the Christmas period. Mr Whitworth, defending, told Sheffield Magistrate’s Court, “There has been a bit of tension over the care of the mother. He feels no contact has been made between the sisters and his mum over the festive season, and that he bears the burden of care for her. “It finished with him feeling angry and deciding to go down to his sister’s in person and for reasons he cannot explain, he picked up a knife. “As he walked to his sister’s he calmed down. He met other members of his family near his sister’s house. They called the police because they became aware he was going to start causing problems. “The knife was never brandished to anyone. When police arrived, Mr Askham remembered he had the knife in his pocket. He took it out and threw it over a nearby wall. He knows that it should not have been in his possession.” Askham will be sentenced on 2nd February.


Burngreave Mail, Wednesday February 9, 2011

Mail News

www.burngreavemail.co.uk

Cheap booze to blame for anti-social behaviour in Burngreave

Vodka violence and recession fuel increasing disorder crisis By Andrew Wheeldon

CHEAP ALCOHOL continues to be at the centre of anti-social behaviour in Sheffield with Burngreave being one of the worst areas for it according to a new report. Figures released yesterday show that between December 2008 and November 2008 police dealt with 59,975 incidents which works out as a staggering 164 a day - nearly seven an hour. The data for the 12 month period are broken down for each of the city’s 10 policing districts. In an age when vodka mixers are as cheap a £1 in many city bars, it is feared that the problem is only going to get worse combined with stress as a result of the most recent recession. Based on population in Sheffield, the Burngreave ward ranks fourth worst with 156 incidents per 1000 people – more than one incident for every six people. Police dealt with 6984 call-outs for anti-social behaviour in the ward in total. The city centre comes out worst with a shocking 287 incidents per 1000 people but

given its low population and high number of visitors to the area the figures are disproportionally high. Statistics show the Ecclesfield policing district, which includes Parson Cross, was the worst area with 204 incidents per 1,000 residents. Places with the lowest incidents were Broomhill which includes Fulwood, with just 49 per 1,000 population - less than a third of Burngreave’s rating. The report to the Health and Community Care Scrutiny Committee gave recommendations for improvements for all areas of the city and set out a vision for Sheffield to follow over the next three years. This includes promoting safe drinking without harming businesses. “Sheffield is affected by the economic recession. The availability of cheap alcohol is likely to encourage people to drink more” it said. “The impact of stress, related to moneyworries, pressure at work or unemployment, may lead to increased consumption of alcohol. This reinforces the need to take forward a wider City approach to these issues.’ The report also recommended that the

Another Saturday night, another arrest (above) council reduce the amount of regular underage drinking before 2014. It highlighted the shocking statistic that 7.3% of 11 year-old schoolchildren are drinking ‘most days’, increasing to 14.5% for 13-14 year-olds. Councillor for Burngreave, Ibrar Hussain said: “We do have problems in Burngreave, but it is no way near as bad as a lot of people think. “Through things like New Deal, PACT meetings and working with schools and communities things are getting better.

“The problems are not dramatically decreasing, but the area is steadily getting better. “I wish we were lower in the table; fourth probably isn’t good enough but we are improving.” Councillor Jackie Drayton, who also represents Burngreave declined to comment on the report. What went wrong for the New Deal?

Read the full report at www.burngreavemail.co.ukd out at

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Drink drive figures up 26% OVER 300 drink drivers were caught in South Yorkshire’s festive clamp down, significantly more than the same time last year, new figures revealed. Officers carried out patrols around the region and set up hotspots to carry out roadside checks as part of a one-month scheme to tackle Christmas drink driving. A total of 7,729 drivers were breathalysed in December, and of those tested 316 drivers were found to be over the limit. The statistics represent a 26% increase from December last year. The amount of people breathalysed dropped significantly from over 34,000 last year to under 8,000. Nationally, 169,838 tests were conducted in December and more than 6,600 drivers proved positive or failed to comply. This is down from last year when 223,423 people were breathalysed with 7,638 people arrested. “Running an intelligence led campaign meant that whilst the number of breath tests carried out had reduced in comparison to the campaign during December 2009, the number of people caught drink driving actually increased” said Stuart Walne, South Yorkshire Chief Inspector for Roads Policing.

By Andrew Wheeldon

Missing woman’s family’s plea

COLLEGE STUDENTS across Sheffield will suffer because of the Government’s decision to scrap a scheme to keep children from the poorest households in higher education. The controversial Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) was introduced in 2004 to help 16-18 year-olds stay in education rather than leaving after their GCSE’s to earn money. MPs have voted to scrap EMA which pays students whose household income is less than £30,810 up to £30 a week to go to college. The scheme which will be rolled out of the UK by September will have a serious impact on colleges across Sheffield given that 47% of students currently benefit from EMA. An angry meeting at Mount Tabor Methodist Church in Parson Cross was fuelled by frustrated students and parents all angry at the Conservative’s decision to scrap the scheme. Barnsley College student, Jack Hetherington said, “A lot of young students from working class areas will have to drop out of college because they can’t afford to go. “Working class people are being as asaulted. We need to show class unity and we need to be a spearhead against the government. We need to save our EMA.” The meeting was attended by Head teacher of Chaucer Business and Enterprise College, Steve Robinson. He told the meeting, “I have the same point of view as young people in the city. “The impact of the removal of EMA is preventing them from joining further education. “People are absolutely right to get angry and work against them. The impact on young people is very worrying. “A number of young people will be forced to leave school which is a big shame. Their education is being jeopardised.”

THE FAMILY of a missing Sheffield woman has issued an emotional appeal for her to get in touch. Sally Webster, 48, (pictured, above) vanished from the family home on Laird Avenue, Wadsley on 20th November. There have been a number of unconfirmed sightings, but her whereabouts remains unknown. At a press conference her tearful husband, Lee said: “Sally if you’re listening to this then just let us know you are safe.” Posters have been put up around the city centre to raise awareness, but today the disappearance still remains a mystery to the police. Chief Inspector Andy Male said her family are finding the situation very hard. He added, “The investigation still progresses and we have a team of officers working on it daily. “This seems out of character.” Sally is described as being 5’2” in height with medium length light brown hair. She has a pale complexion and is slim. She was last seen wearing light blue jeans, a padded jacket and brown boots.

Backlash: students angry at EMA cut

Longley Park College student (above) fire their questions at the experts These feelings were also echoed at the BBC Radio 1 Sunday Surgery, last night which was broadcasted from Longley Park. Finance Expert, Laura Howard was at the school to give advice to students about ways to be able to afford to stay in education even without EMA. “If you get EMA now, you are only going to get it until September,” she said. “There is talk about launching some-

thing similar but for now it looks like you are going to have to look into getting a Saturday job. “You should not work more than eight hours per week. It is really tough on you right now, just make sure your job does not affect your studies.” Presenter of the show, Aled Jones told The Mail, “The problems regarding EMA are going to affect the people here tonight.

“It is great that Radio 1 can come along and do this for them and shine some light on the situation. “This is what the BBC is here for, to reach the listeners and try to help them, and it feels good when we know we do help.” What do you think of the decision to scrap the EMA? Was it an unnecessary expense or a vital lifeline? Send your emails to comment@burngreavemail.co.uk


Burngreave Mail, Wednesday February 9, 2011

Mail News

Almost three years after Neil Rodgers went missing, his family are told:

Diving too deep cost him his life

The Rondo shipwreck (above) off the Sound of Mull is a renouned diving spot for divers all over the world By Andrew Wheeldon A FATHER from South Yorkshire died while exploring a sea wreck off the coast of Scotland after scuba diving at depths that he wasn’t qualified for, an inquest heard yesterday. Neil Rodgers, 40, of Chapelfield Crescent, Thorpe Hesley, near Rotherham became separated from his two ‘diving buddies’ after getting into difficulty at approximately 47 metres below sea level. The father of four who was on a diving weekend with fellow members of the Doncaster Sub Aqua Club had been “drinking until late” the night before. He was a BSAC sport diver which qualified him to dive to depths of 35 metres. The trio who are all thought to have suffered from nitrogen narcosis which affects nerve cells in a similar way to alcohol traveled to depths of 47 metres in a bid to explore the Rondo shipwreck. The Rondo which sunk in 1935 off the coast of the Sound of Mull is a popular shipwreck to visit but is described as ‘a challenging dive.’ Alarm engineer, Mr Rodgers went missing on 16th March 2008 on the final dive of a three day diving trip but his body was not discovered until 10 months later. He had been warned by the organisers

of the trip not to dive beyond 35 metres at a preliminary meeting two days before they left for Scotland, but failed to take notice of the message. Postmortems on Mr Rodgers, who had five years diving experience, were carried out in both Glasgow and Sheffield. Although drowning was suspected, neither pathologist could give the exact cause of death, which remains as ‘unascertained.’ The inquest heard from diving expert, Steve Church who was asked by the Coroner to investigate the death. He told the inquest: ‘The Sound of Mull is well recognised for divers. ‘’Mr Rodgers was only qualified to dive to 35 metres. This should have been the maximum depth that he went to. “I would have expected the whole team to hold at 35m. Beyond that I would expect checks at every five metres.” “Mr Rodgers went deeper than he was qualified to go. There was a buddy check at 11 metres but no evidence that there were any more as they got deeper. “It is my belief that nitrogen narcosis played a part in the death. I would suggest that it affected everybody in that party, given the depth that they were at.” Although many dives are undertaken in pairs, it is acceptable to dive in a three, which is what Mr Rodgers did. He was accompanied by Dr John Fal-

lon and Sarah Brough, both of whom hold the dive leader qualification which permits them to dive to 50 metres in depth. Mrs Brough, who has been a member of the club since 1993 had know Mr Rodgers since he joined the club in 2003. “I knew that he was a sport diver. I didn’t speak to Mr Rodgers about how deep we were going to go because I knew he had dived to similar depths before.” She told the inquest. “The visibility was good and we descended very quickly. At approximately 45 metres, Mr Rodgers motioned to me that he wanted to turn round. “We sat on the deck to settle ourselves. He started to show signs that he was going into panic. He gestured with his hands that he wasn’t happy. “There was a lot of silt from the deck of the Rondo so I stepped back to let Dr Fallon and Mr Rodgers have some space. I didn’t want to crowd them. After about a minute she watched both torches ascend vertically from the wreck until they were out of sight. She then made her own way back to the surface. Mr Rodgers and Dr Fallon shared a cabin on the trip and had dived several times before together. Dr Fallon told the inquest that he believed Mr Rodgers to be a “very competent diver” and assumed that he was a dive

leader. “When we got to the deck, I standing in front of Mr Rodgers. He shined his torch in my face which temporarily blinded me. “Initially I tried to calm myself down because the blinding was very disorienting. I then signaled to Mr Rodgers to stop shining the torch in my face. “He responded by doing it again, which suggested that he was panicking. “I stepped back and in the process lost my weight belt. I don’t know how it came off but at that point I ascended to the surface.” Sadly, both Dr Fallon and Mrs Brough believed that Mr Rodgers had ascended with each other, but he never surfaced. Assistant deputy coroner Donald CouttsWood said he was satisfied Mr Rodgers’ equipment played no part in his death and that the trip preparation was adequate. He said: “It is clear from the evidence that Mr Rodgers was in distress. The depth was clearly a factor in this. “I am satisfied that narcosis played a role. The effects could be exacerbated with the alcohol drunk the night before and lack of rest. “Mr Rodgers was specifically told not to go beyond 35 metres and he intentionally did. This intent cost him his life” said Mr Coutts-Wood, who recorded a verdict of death by misadventure.

www.burngreavemail.co.uk

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Neil Rodgers (above) died off the coast of the Sound of Mull

Nitrogen narcosis: the facts NITROGEN NARCOSIS is a condition in which divers breathe compressed air from a tank. It is also known as ‘rapture of the deep or ‘the martini effect.’ Being under the effect of nitrogen narcosis is often described as being ‘narked’ Narcosis is derived from the Greek word narke, which translates as ‘temporary decline or loss of senses and movement, numbness’ The condition usually does not become noticeable until divers go beyond 30 metres. At this point a state similar to alcohol intoxication can be experienced. As depth increases, the effects may become hazardous. Although divers can learn to cope with the effects, it is not possible to develop a complete tolerance. The condition is completely reversed by ascending to a shallower depth with no long-term effects. Diving beyond 40 metres is considered outside the scope of recreational diving and most scuba training organisations recommend not going beyond this depth. At 90 metres, the effect becomes disabling, causing hallucinations, blindness, loss of memory, unconsciousness, and even death. Some people who become ‘narked’ are unaware that they are under any effect in a similar way that a person who has drunk a lot of alcohol may not realise that they are drunk. The risk can be minimised by following safe diving practices, including proper equipment maintenance, good buoyancy and maintenance of visual cues. In addition, no alcohol should be consumed within 24 hours of diving.

Residents call on Council to help get bus service back By Andrew Wheeldon TEMPERS NEARLY boiled over at a Community Assembly meeting in Shirecliffe last night, as residents vented their anger at cuts to bus services. Buses between Firshill and Shirecliffe and the city centre have not run after 6.30pm since September. There are also no services to and from Hillsborough after 8pm. First bus group, which used to run the service have cut the number 2, 33, 34 and

45 buses the routes because they were not making a profit. Councillor for Burngreave, Jackie Drayton told the meeting, “People depend on these buses. Councillors have taken it up with the bus companies and we are looking at ways that we can help people on the estate. “We have little influence but we are trying to help you. They have to make money though and this is not a profitable area. “It is feared that young and elderly

people will be vulnerable to attack on the Firshill estate at night because of long walks to the nearest bus stop.’ Deputy Vice-Principle of Parkwood Academy, Paul Howard said, “Children are wandering around the area in the dark and it is not safe. We need to safeguard our children in these dark nights. “If they stay for after school activities they are at serious risk when they walk home.” A petition by over 100 people has now been signed in an attempt to bring back

the buses to the area. Richard Simon, from First bus group, confirmed discussions had been started to bring back an evening route to the area. He added, “We are aware that residents have been concerned about evening bus services in their area. Following their campaign we are hoping to set up a new route in that area in the near future. “At this time we cannot reveal too many details to stop other companies using the route but residents will be informed over the coming months.”

Under fire: First bus group (above)


Burngreave Mail