Our vision: jobs and business

Published 21st June 2017 at 2:03pm

Martin McKervey, LEP Board member and partner at CMS, writes:

We all want to work and to earn money. If we’re young, we want to earn money to spend, wisely or unwisely. If we’re a bit older, and dare I say more sensible, we want money to provide for our families and to feel a sense of fulfilment. So we want jobs.

But if you can’t get to work easily because the journey involves crowded roads or perhaps two or three changes on public transport, many jobs are just impossible. They might be interesting and worthwhile jobs – but not if you are exhausted by the end of the day. And if businesses cannot reach their customers in a manageable timespan, they will not thrive.

If long hours travelling are a disincentive, talented people and innovative businesses with much to offer will look elsewhere for employment and location, and the region’s vitality and productivity will suffer.

That’s why the Sheffield City Region (SCR) has worked on a radical new approach to transport, aiming to grow high-value jobs and prosperity by improving transport and its connectivity.

The SCR’s ‘Transport Prospectus’ outlines the region’s intention to seize the greatest possible benefits from national programmes such as HS2 and investment by Transport for the North (TfN). And it has been sent direct to Government to make sure Ministers, following the recent General Election, are well aware of the SCR’s priorities.

This is exactly the right moment to make it clear what we know about our region’s needs because TfN has just published the evidence on which its own Strategic Transport Plan will be based. Our Prospectus is a response to the TfN’s Plan, and makes it crystal clear what the region’s expectations are from major national and Pan-Northern transport schemes.

The SCR is also the Local Transport Authority for South Yorkshire. That is a rational arrangement which enables the SCR to take a holistic view of transport needs. These range from commuters who need to get to work on time, to residents who welcome a nearby investment boost but can’t get out of their own road because of the increase in traffic it brings – we are taking account of all of these!

We have produced a ‘Transport Prospectus’ which is a concise outline of the transport issues this region has, and how we would like to resolve them: the prospectus will be used to update our next, and comprehensive Transport Plan.

Sir Nigel Knowles, the Chair of our Local Enterprise Partnership, says:

We need a transport network that offers excellent connectivity. Moving people around the city region from major transport hubs quickly, and as efficiently as possible, is critical to our future economic success. That is why proposals for a fully integrated mass transit system for the region are included in the prospectus.

He has pledged to deliver a transport network that will massively improve our connections to other parts of the UK and globally, opening up huge new markets for business and wider job opportunities for workers.

Our Transport Prospectus sees three geographic priorities – national, Pan-Northern, and the Sheffield City Region. National schemes are motorways or national rail developed by bodies such as Highways England and Network Rail; Pan-Northern those to be developed by TfN; and regional or local schemes which will be developed by local promoters in co-operation with the SCR.

Meanwhile, the region has already seen major progress on transport improvements thanks to infrastructure funding from the SCR. Examples include:

• The second stage of the key Doncaster Sheffield Airport link road
• Large-scale work at Junction 36 of the M1 unlocking wide areas of the Dearne Valley corridor for commercial development and housing
• A new link road from the M1 into the Markham Vale business and commercial park
• The ‘Bus Rapid Transit (North)’ scheme, a link between Sheffield and Rotherham to relieve congestion

These, and a range of other improvements across the region, are set to create thousands of jobs.

The SCR Transport Prospectus is an interim position statement prior to the completion of the refresh SCR Transport Strategy at the end of 2017.

For the full Prospectus please see: http://bit.ly/2sws1mA

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