Region’s leaders want Government to back £1.7bn COVID renewal

Dan Jarvis

Leaders across South Yorkshire have called on the Government to back bold plans to help the region’s economy bounce back from the pandemic.

The Sheffield City Region Mayoral Combined Authority (MCA) formally approved the Renewal Action Plan at their meeting this week.

The aim of the plan is to support people, businesses and places across South Yorkshire, with the interventions designed to make the region’s economy stronger, greener and fairer.

The plan has been developed by Mayor Dan Jarvis, the leaders of Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield councils and the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), working with the business community, trade unions, universities and voluntary sector.

Now, the Mayor and the leaders of the councils have jointly called for the Government to back the proposals in the Comprehensive Spending Review in the autumn.

The proposals will support over 55,000 training and job opportunities, back 25,000 businesses, create 3,000 apprenticeships, and revitalise South Yorkshire’s towns centres.

Jarvis said: “I’m pleased that leaders have formally approved our Renewal Action Plan. We have worked closely together to develop the proposals, which will support workers, businesses and places right across our region.

“We send a clear message to Government that South Yorkshire stands ready to deliver not just recovery, but renewal in our economy and society.

“Backing the plan will benefit our region, the north and the whole the country. Now the Government must devolve the powers and invest the resources South Yorkshire needs – giving us the tools and resources to get on with the job and build back better.”

Councillor Sir Steve Houghton, leader of Barnsley Council, said: “I’m pleased to support the proposals that will help our businesses, create more jobs and apprenticeships, and give people access to training opportunities; all things that are welcome in Barnsley and the wider region.

“We need the Government to take notice of the Renewal Action Plan and support us in driving South Yorkshire forward.”

Mayor of Doncaster Council, Ros Jones, said: “The next six months will be a challenge, as we continue with the ‘new normal’, whilst doing what we can to prevent a second peak, all whilst we shape our path out of the European Union.

“We have an opportunity to rebuild our economy to be cleaner, greener, stronger and more resilient. I ask of Government to give us the powers and the resources and we will do the job.”

Cllr Chris Read, leader of Rotherham Council, said: “Covid-19 continues to have a devastating impact on people and businesses in South Yorkshire, but the way we emerge from the crisis provides a chance to build back better.

“Our existing, exciting plans for major town centre and housing regeneration will undoubtedly help with that recovery.

“And that could be bolstered still further by the implantation of the Sheffield City Region Renewal Action Plan and give the Government the opportunity to show that they are serious about their levelling-up promise and not continuing to let places like Rotherham get left behind.”

Cllr Julie Dore, leader of Sheffield City Council, said: “The challenges resulting from Covid-19 are profound and stretch across every aspect of our society.

“We know there will be economic consequences as a result of this pandemic that will cause an effect for some years to come.

“Knowing this, we’ve been working together across South Yorkshire, alongside the hard work we are doing in Sheffield, to put together a plan in order to lead our region’s recovery and renewal.

“It’s incredibly important that we get the much-needed funding from Government so we can take the action that this situation requires.”