Speech delivered in The House Of Commons on 10/05/18
Thank you Chair for the opportunity to speak today.
Before I start I must make a declaration of interest – today I speak to you not just as an MP serving the residents of Barnsley Central but also in my role as the new Mayor of the Sheffield City Region.
Last week 260,000 residents across South Yorkshire voted in the election. I remain honoured and humbled that after a hard-fought campaign I was elected to serve. It is a responsibility I take very seriously.
I have a clear mandate from the people of South Yorkshire to deliver. I am delighted that this debate gives me an early opportunity to start to do so.
In my manifesto and throughout the campaign I made clear my support for Sheffield becoming a creative and digital hub for the Region.
This is a vision I share with the Leader of Sheffield, Councillor Julie Dore.
That vision can become reality.
Indeed, in many respects it already is:
- Digital employment in Sheffield and South Yorkshire stands at more than 21,000.
- The top 25 tech companies in Sheffield employ more than 12,000 people, and bring in more than £2 billion a year.
- Sheffield digital companies boast one of the highest growth rates of any cluster in the UK.
If Channel 4 relocates to the city we can supercharge this transformation.
During my campaign I met many Sheffielders and got to know even more about the city and its people.
What I heard reinforced everything that I already knew:
- Sheffield is a city that does things on its own terms.
- Sheffield is a city not afraid to make trouble.
- Sheffield is a city that is creative.
- It is welcoming. It is inclusive. Authentic. Independent.
- It is rich in culture. Always changing. Making a difference to the world.
It is this culture, when harnessed to the two Universities in the city that will provide the creativity, the talent and the expertise Channel 4 needs.
It is this culture that has helped Sheffield businesses such as Zoo Digital, who work from Hollywood to Bollywood with some of the biggest names in TV and film to thrive and become the best in their field.
It is this culture that has enabled JOI POLLOI a home grown digital design agency to prove that kids from council estates can win BAFTAs.
Culture. Institutions. Businesses. Working as one. That is our strength.
And this is what makes Sheffield a perfect fit for Channel 4.
Or perhaps Channel 4 a perfect fit for Sheffield.
Members will know that Channel 4 prides itself on providing a template to be an alternative and distinctive voice in broadcasting, to innovate and inspire change in how people see the world, and to champion diversity.
Well, where better than the first UK City of Sanctuary to locate their Headquarters?
And the decision to locate in Sheffield means we can catalyse the North and provide another shot in the arm for a City Region that has created 37,000 jobs in the last four years and attracted major new investors such as Boeing and McLaren.
Through shared endeavour we can ensure that the brand ‘Made in Sheffield’ becomes as much a mark of excellence in the Age of Information as it was in the Age of Steel.
My question then to the Right Hon Member is whether he can think of a place in the United Kingdom that better reflects the right culture, the right spirit and the right place for Channel 4 than Sheffield – and can he assure me that Sheffield and the wider region will have its voice heard as we enter the competitive bidding process?
Thank you for the opportunity to speak.