"Today is Brexit day - which means it's more important than ever that Sheffield is Open for Business"

It’s Brexit day! Good for some, not so good for others, writes The Star’s Business Editor David Walsh.

Friday, 31st January 2020, 11:45 am

It means blue passports, a new 50p coin and the start of a journey to our new place in the world - wherever that may be.

It’s very hard to claim with certainty that this factory closure, or those job losses or that company relocating to Europe are down to Brexit - since it hasn’t happened yet. Although the government’s own predictions make for unhappy reading.

What is certain is we won’t get £605m of EU structural funds earmarked for South Yorkshire up to 2027.

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Britain will leave the European Union today: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

It follows a first round of more than £1bn in the 2000s for stimulating and modernising business and training people which Sheffield MP Paul Blomfield says grew the economy by eight per cent.

So we’ll be poorer - unless the government makes good on its promise with the Shared Prosperity Fund. When it was announced in 2017, the government said it would replace EU cash. Since then nothing has happened, literally, it is a fund in name only, leaving many to fear it won’t come.

If you were a Tory would you give a staunch Labour area £605m? Quite.

Sadly, there’s nothing we can do about this. So we have to rely on ourselves.

Sheffield City Council's role and attitude is more vital than ever. But recent rumblings have been worrying. Property Services was slated by the city’s Property Associaton last week. And what’s happened to the IT contracts that were supposed to be being dished out to local firms after the council cancelled its contract with Capita? It’s been 18 months and no one knows - nor how much it paid to get out of the deal early.

It’s important to promote good work but essential to highlight areas that need improvement. And the council’s tendency to secrecy is ever present.

So I’m launching a campaign called ‘Open for Business?’ to shine a spotlight on the authority’s work and call out bad practice.

We need councillors and officers to be in top form for the challenges that lie ahead. Contact me at: [email protected]