We need a mayor for Sheffield Region

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Your sister paper in Leeds asked for a big debate on having a Mayor for Yorkshire.

I find they bang on ad nauseam about Yorkshire, which, if Sheffield agreed would cut off half our natural region South Yorks/north Midlands.

Any ‘big debate’ we have should be for a mayor for the Sheffield Region, strong enough to prise as much power and cash from London as possible.

This idea is both cumbersome and parochial, and I trust the Sheffield City Region, for one, will dismiss it.

The views of one of Sheffield’s leading Victorian steelmen, John Brown, who scorned his father’s advice that he should be a draper, still ring true with our manufacturers today.

He didn’t want a career where he would just trade locally in England, he wanted to be a steel manufacturer and merchant dealing with the whole world.

20 years later he and fellow citizens Charles Cammell, and The Vickers brothers had huge industrial empires, based on steel making, each building ships in their own yards on the Mersey, the Clyde and at Barrow.

These men were incomparable but today’s thousands of businesses in the Sheffield City Region rely on exporting the greater part of their production. Sheffield Forgemasters have far more trade With Russia and Germany, than within the UK.

The manufacturing region, too, covers North Notts, Lincs and Derbyshire, not just South Yorkshire.

(Scratch a Sheffielder and you’ll find he, or his ancestors, are more likely to hail from the East Midlands; Derbyshire, Notts, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire and Northants than north of Barnsley).

The Region has more in common with the Peak District than the Dales; with Lincoln than York; Bakewell than Harrogate; Chesterfield than Wakefield; Scunthorpe than Dewsbury; Pittsburgh than Leeds.

Of course contacts with other City Regions, Leeds, Hull, Nottingam and Manchester etc are essential but the Region needs its own strong voice, its Mayor to look after its interests.

My choice for this post would be Richard Caborn, who worked in the steel industry, was a minister, and who, though Labour, showed he could work with Tory, and fellow Sheffielder, Seb Coe, to bring the Olympics to London. He is also the power behind the Olympic Legacy Park on the site of the demolished Don Valley Stadium.

Don Alexander,

Knab Road, Sheffield, S7