Mayor says North’s transport crises show Levelling Up agenda is failing

South Yorkshire’s Mayor, Oliver Coppard, has warned the Government’s Levelling Up project is floundering in the face of escalating crises in the region.

Marking his first 100 days in the role this week, he also said proper devolution should be a partnership, “not a rigged game of poker in which South Yorkshire is pitted against other regions.”

Coppard’s first two months in office have seen the owners of Doncaster Sheffield Airport cast its future into doubt, and the region’s bus network facing major cuts.

Coppard argued the problems facing transport in South Yorkshire and across the North reflect a failure of the Government’s flagship Levelling Up agenda.

He said: “Rather than a sensible, grown-up conversation about the needs of our community, we are forced into competing with other, equally deserving parts of our country for pots of money that are too small to begin with. You can’t level-up through competition.

“The contrast between the Government’s levelling-up rhetoric and the reality across our communities is stark. This Tory Government are seemingly intent on doing little more than gaslighting us.

“That is the real tragedy of Levelling Up. It’s clear no one in South Yorkshire simply wants a handout from Government. We want nothing less than to stand on our own two feet.”

Coppard added that with energy prices set to increase by thousands of pounds in October, many people across South Yorkshire are scared of what the near future will bring.

He said: “This Government offers us little hope and fewer ideas for making life better here, in South Yorkshire, or addressing the most urgent needs of our communities.

“The economic headwinds we are now facing may be a temporary storm or a fundamental change in the weather.

“We are more exposed than most to the downsides of the UK’s current economic model, and the success of our region relies more than I would like on choices made in London.”