An exhibition entitled The August 2011 Riots: Salford and Sheffield was staged this week at Sheffield Hallam University featuring iconic black and white photos of the scenes by Stephen Broadhurst, artwork by Joe Coffey and lots of quotes from people involved in the riots, including this from a 23 year old unemployed bloke…
"…it was a chance to tell the police, tell the Government and to tell everyone else for that matter that we get fucking hacked off around here and we won't stand for it…"
The exhibition - drawing from ongoing research into the social situation in Salford by former Ordsall resident and University of Salford researcher Dr Bob Jeffery - had huge posters comparing the deprivation figures for Sheffield and Salford, drawing the inevitable conclusion that poverty was the central factor.
Alongside Stephen Broadhurst's photos is this commentary he wrote which we're printing in full to kind of open a debate, if anyone wants one…
The Salford Riots - A Hot August Night
"Salford, a city full of history but little of it is left to be seen today. Many of the old Victorian buildings were demolished as part of the slum clearance of the 1960's. Even today the few remaining buildings are still under threat as the council seems intent on wiping out the past and replacing it with bland characterless buildings.
In the 1970s a new precinct and market were constructed with modern flats and maisonettes and several new public houses to replace the existing Broad Street area of shops and it's hinterland of terraced housing, corner shops and local pubs.
The new buildings quickly became slums themselves as money was not re-invested into the community and a steady influx of problem families and transiting migrants gradually broke the community down.
The impact of this on the area was that many of the larger retail shops on the precinct steadily began to move out, these included Marks and Spencer, Burtons and W.H.Smiths. This caused less and less people to shop in the area and instead go to nearby Manchester or lately the Trafford Centre and so these shops were replaced by 'pound' shops serving only the needs of the less well off local residents and therefore not bringing any 'new' money into the local economy.
Several local pubs that were newly built in the 70's were also closed around the precinct mainly due to repeated instances of violence these included the notorious Flat Iron, the Kettledrum and the Brass Handles and the once busy market also gradually declined as it began to sell more and more tat and in the end became no more than a flea market selling more and more items of dubious origins and standards until in the end shortly after the riots it was demolished completely.
Add to this the tensions of the global economy and a coalition government that does not understand or seem to even care about these disenfranchised communities, with it's severe austerity plans, the growing number of jobless youths, high taxes and living costs, decreased benefits, pay cuts, job cuts, pension cuts and even students being hit hard with enormous course fees being introduced and cuts to their EMA and the future looks desperately bleak for the youth of this community.
And so it was inevitable that these tensions, given the right environment and reason, would ignite and flare as they did…on a hot August night in Salford in 2011."