Must find answers
Two independent reports mapping the health and inequality of our city have now been published this year. And the results and recommendations are broadly similar. Sheffield is one of the most unequal cities in the country, marked by geographic inequalities that are characterised by poor standards of privately rented housing, poor levels of mental wellbeing, health indicators, high negative impacts of welfare reform and premature death rates. The latest report, published in the first Joint Strategic Needs Assessment for Sheffield, comes up with 12 recommended areas for priority action. It has made reference to the first report published this year by the Fairness Commission – but we find ourselves asking whether the two could have worked more closely together, given their similar findings, as there appears to be so much duplication of findings and recommendations between the two. However, the message is clear. If we are to tackle the inequalities of this city, and we need to, then a reappraisal of funding priorities are needed not only by the council but also by health bodies to align the solutions to the needs.
Passengers raw deal
Northern Rail has a long way to travel before it starts to satisfy its customers. The results of a Passenger Focus watchdog report make grim reading for the firm, which got the lowest score of any train company in the UK. That comes only months after fares went up by 4.2 per cent. We hope the company reflects on this, particularly the statistic that tells us only 29 per cent of regular commuters felt they were getting value for money. This is not a figure which does anyone any favours. Northern Rail knows it must improve its punctuality score because one thing customers will not tolerate is their trains being late. Let us hope the company reacts because we need our train firms to provide a reliable service at a price which keeps us commuting. The alternative is more cars on the road and that is not an option.