This is an important and exciting time for the Sheffield City Region.
Our economy is changing and jobs are being created. However, if we are to achieve our ambitions for a prosperous, co-operative and inclusive society, there remain many challenges that we must overcome and opportunities that we must grasp.
Since becoming Mayor, I have worked hard to maximise these opportunities and to deliver the commitments upon which I was elected. Delivering these policies is and will make a real difference to our residents, our economy, and to our towns and city.
Detailed below are just some of the highlights from the last eight months, which have been delivered through my work with partners, the Mayoral Combined Authority and by the Local Enterprise Partnership making maximum use of the Local Growth Fund.
Economic Growth and Prosperity
To secure a prosperous future for all our residents we must build a strong and inclusive economy. To do this, together we have:
- Approved £5.3m to support the regeneration of South Yorkshire’s town and city centres, including Sheffield’s ‘Grey to Green’ programme and Doncaster’s Quality Streets project
- Agreed £2.9m to develop employment sites in Rotherham and Bassetlaw, to create more than 1000 new jobs.
- Initiated a ‘Welcome to Yorkshire’ programme to champion South Yorkshire’s visitor economy, and approved £6.9m to support the development of Yorkshire Wildlife Park, Gulliver’s Valley and Vulcan to the Sky. Founded the Sheffield City Region Music Board, in partnership with UK Music, to help shape and grow the region’s music industry
Education, Skills, and a 21st Century Workforce
Access to quality jobs and through life training is vital to both building the economy we need and improving all our living standards. To support our current and future workforce, and develop new opportunities, together we have:
- Granted £4.1m support for a new Film, TV and VFX Academy & Film Studio on the edge of the Dearne Valley, and agreed £600,000 for Sheffield Hallam University National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering.
- Implemented the Working Win pilot programme to support those who are out of work, or struggling in their current job due to a physical or mental health condition, with more than 2000 referrals already made.
- Committed to the development of a South Yorkshire Futures Mayoral Partnership Fund, to support projects designed to improve life opportunities for disadvantaged children from the region.
Tackling Poverty and Inequality
Poverty and inequality are damaging to both individuals and our community as a whole. To tackle these important issues, together we have:
- Worked with South Yorkshire Housing Association and Crisis to convene the first Regional Homelessness Summit, bringing together more than 100 professionals from across the region.
- Secured Living Wage accreditation for the Sheffield City Region Mayoral Combined Authority setting an example for other organisations to become Living Wage employers.
- Published the first Mayoral Combined Authority Gender Pay Gap report and the gender balance of the LEP Board has been improved.
Better regional transport services are essential to grow our economy, improve health and create an inclusive society. To deliver long term improvements in our transport network and encourage more walking and cycling, together we have:
- Developed and launched a new Transport Vision for the Sheffield City Region, ‘A Transport System: Connecting People to Places’, setting out my ambition to transform our transport network.
- Approved £3.8m for improvements to the A61 Sheffield inner ring road and submitted proposals for a new railway station at Doncaster Sheffield Airport.
- Launched the ‘Little Big Changes’ campaign to promote active travel and commissioned a study by Sheffield Hallam University to support my plans to increase walking and cycling opportunities.
Housing and the Environment
Good homes and a healthy environment are fundamental to a good quality of life. We must build enough new housing to meet the needs of our communities, improve the quality of our existing housing stock, protect our natural environment and tackle the scourge of air pollution. To do this, we have:
- Increased the funding available to unlock housing sites in the Sheffield City Region by £15m and approved support for 60 new affordable homes in Darfield and Mexborough.
- Granted £3.46m for the Sheffield Upper Don flood alleviation scheme, where the River Loxley and River Don meet in north-west Sheffield.
- Partnered with schools and the Woodland Trust to deliver the ‘Armistice Tree Planting’ project across the region, improving the environment and commemorating the centenary of the end of World War I.
Looking ahead to 2019
There is, of course, much more to do and I am looking forward to building on these successes in 2019.
In line with my commitment to our town centres and the visitor economy, in the New Year the Mayoral Combined Authority is due to consider awarding funding for Barnsley’s Glass Works regeneration scheme and the Parkwood Ski Village in Sheffield. I will also be bringing forward a new regional transport strategy and detailed plans for transport investment through the Transforming Cities Fund, building on my recently published transport vision.
To drive forward my ambitions for a more co-operative community, I will be launching a new Co-operative Advisory Panel. And I will be developing an Employers Charter to promote good quality jobs with decent pay and opportunities for progression.
I hope you have enjoyed Christmas and that you have a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.
You can read my Christmas message here.