Column: Our lives can’t be a Monopoly board game!

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It’s always strange when the future of the people, children and young people of the South Yorkshire region is made by so called deal makers that in my view are so divorced from reality, the pressures of earning a living, that they can whimsically risk our futures on a hunch, that hunch being there may be a so called bigger prize. Our lives cannot be a monopoly game, with people hoping they might own Mayfair or Park Lane one day – this is about the here and now.

It’s not often that towns like Doncaster and Barnsley can put two fingers up to £900m worth of investment, which is being given to them on a silver platter from government, particularly at a time of austerity that would have inevitably benefited jobs, skills and resulted in significant economic growth across the entire region. Doncaster and Barnsley have decided to gamble the lives of so many people and industry too, purely based on speculation and hope. An old friend once said to me that “hope is not a plan”. I cannot tell you how ridiculous this decision is, and I have to say that I absolutely feel the pain of Julie Dore; she clearly understands that pragmatism should trump speculation, particularly if the people you represent are struggling. In fact, taking on a South Yorkshire deal now would surely have strengthened the South Yorkshire hand to potentially develop a wider Yorkshire deal in the future – a view shared by Louise Haigh MP. So, the question is why the leaders of Barnsley and Doncaster do not understand that. They are both elected, and so I am calling both of them out to explain if they can give any guarantees that we are still going to get this money in the future, because if neither of them can, then it is their positions that should suffer, not those people who were in desperate need of this investment. Moreover, if they do have a plan, then at least have the courtesy of publishing those plans – and let’s quash rumours that deals were going on behind closed doors. Economies are built on confidence – as soon as confidence is hit, let me assure you that this has a significant impact, at the most extreme end of the impact is what they call recession, don’t take my word for it, ask Mark Carney the Governor of the Bank of England.

He will tell you directly, that as we negotiate Brexit we must stabilise confidence in our economy, because the impact of losing that confidence will detrimentally affect trade, industry, jobs growth etc.

So I ask, given that the Government repeatedly stated to Doncaster and Barnsley that they will not be part of a Yorkshire wide deal, why on earth would they play Russian roulette with our futures, and immediately turn their/our back on an immediate £30m injection – this in my view is suicidal.