Next week, 16 August, will mark 100 days since I was elected by the people of South Yorkshire to serve as their Mayor.
In my first hundred days I have started building the co-operative community that I promised in my mayoral manifesto.
But we will not create a co-operative community without substantial investment. That is why, under my leadership, the SCR Combined Authority has submitted a ‘Transforming Cities Fund’ bid to enable us to invest millions into upgrading our economy and transport systems.
At the heart of that bid is what I am calling South Yorkshire’s ‘Global Innovation Corridor’ – linking the Advanced Manufacturing Park at Rotherham, Sheffield’s Olympic legacy park, Doncaster Sheffield Airport and the proposed Digital Campus here in Barnsley. We have a wealth of innovative talent across the communities of the city region – talent that is now being realised and developed.
However, our transport infrastructure is not fit for purpose. That is why I decided to take the lead on transport issues so that we can find the solutions to the ongoing challenges. As a board member of Transport for the North I have held the Government to account over the shambles on our railways, and I have fought for compensation for passengers affected by months of delays and cancellations. It is time that our railways are brought back into public ownership, and put passengers before profits.
Building a co-operative community means putting people first. That is why I am delighted that the Local Enterprise Partnership, which brings together councils and local businesses, have agreed to that the Regional Secretary of the Trades Union Congress will serve as an LEP member.
I’ve done this because I believe that it’s only by putting our Trades Unions in position of influence – be it regional, local or on the board of the businesses – that we can ensure they effectively help shape economic and social policy, and represent the voices of working people in the decision-making process.
Alongside building a co-operative community, I am also committed to improving our environment and the lives of the people of South Yorkshire.
I am working with the Woodland Trust as part of the ‘Trees for Schools’ project to plant armistice day trees across the city region on the centenary of the end of WW1. This project will have two purposes: to commemorate a generation that made the ultimate sacrifice and build a more sustainable world for the next.
We can all play our part if we are to protect and preserve the environment, just by making small changes to our lifestyles – such as walking or cycling to work. That is why I will appoint an Active Travel Commissioner to promote walking and cycling across the city region.
By walking and cycling more, we can protect our environment, improve our own health and wellbeing and live healthier lives.
The first hundred days have flown by. There is much more to do, but we are making real progress. Over the rest of my term in office, I will continue to make my manifesto pledges a reality and build our co-operative community. Thank you to all those who continue to support this work.
This article was first published in the Barnsley Chronicle on 10 August 2018.