Column: It’s time to put Sheffield City Region on the map

Lord Blunkett
Lord Blunkett
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God willing, we are coming to the end of an extremely frustrating and painful period in the history of Sheffield and South Yorkshire.

This is an attempt to gain agreement and move forward to make the city region work, with the election of a mayor covering the whole area of South Yorkshire and the consequent availability of cash and devolved powers from central government.

This May there will now be a mayoral election which will coincide with local elections across the four local authority areas.

At the present time, political parties are selecting their candidates for the election.

I know just how painful that has been in respect of my own party but now there are two candidates competing for the Labour nomination. I will be backing the Labour MP for Barnsley Central Dan Jarvis.

Dan, in my view, will be able to heal the wounds across the fractious local authorities, mobilise the strengths of the institutions, organisations and businesses that make up South Yorkshire.

Above all, he will be able to start the process of matching Great Manchester and the Midlands who have been drawing down cash, accepting the devolution of functions and powers, and starting to build a genuine alternative to the dominance of London.

We desperately, in our area, need to make this Sheffield city region work and work for all of us, the people of South Yorkshire.

Dan Jarvis will give that kind of profile, that matching of national figures, and bring the experience and clout necessary to make it work.

Now is the moment to heal the wounds, to put the disagreements behind us and to unite behind someone who can ensure that the new and challenging role can be developed in the interests of us all.

With the experience that Dan had before he came into Parliament and with his feel for people and for the importance of building from the bottom, I am sure that he can do the job necessary to put us back on the map.

Let us hope so because in terms of our future, we have got to make this work, like it or not.

n David Blunkett is a former MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough and cabinet minister. He is now House of Lords peer.

Dan Jarvis is an MP for Barsnley Central and is hoping to be both MP and Mayor.

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