Letter: We want the same benefits

This letter sent to the Star was written by Mike Smith, A South Yorkshire Freedom Rider, Park Grove, S70

Tuesday, 27th April 2021, 6:38 am
Updated Tuesday, 27th April 2021, 6:39 am
Sheffield City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis MP

Some time ago The Star was kind enough to print a letter of mine querying Mayor Jarvis’s reluctance to adhere to the code of conduct. Since then it’s clear that Mayor Jarvis may have decided not to accept the salary that went with the responsibilities of his office but that didn’t allow him to refuse to accept the code of conduct, cited in his manifesto, which did go with the responsibilities of his office. His salary might have been negotiable but the code of conduct – selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership – wasn’t.

Consequently I’ve put a complaint to the relevant body concerning Mayor Jarvis’s behaviour in this area. The basis for this complaint was an agreement by the Mayor at a meeting over two years ago with myself and other Freedom Riders that he would look at the North East Gold Card scheme as a way of funding and resolving the restoration of the full train concession for the elderly and disabled of South Yorkshire.

Given the claim that Northern Rail demanded £63 per person for South Yorkshire I also wanted to know why Northern weren’t applying the same figure to Greater Manchester which paid £11 per person and the West Midlands which paid £7 per person.

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In addition I have asked the Mayor to give a full and frank explanation privately and through this paper as to why he doesn’t want the 300,000 pensioners and tens of thousands of disabled people to have the same benefits millions of others enjoy across the country.

If he does want the concession restoring what steps is he’s taking to restore it?

To date he’s refused to answer any of them and my information is that Mayor Jarvis didn’t even pick up the phone to talk to his opposite number in the north east let alone ask for full details of the scheme.

As an MP he may well have expected to continue with the current style of government which seems to be the patronising “move along, nothing to see here” but as Mayor he’s in a much more responsible and different position.

Barely elected in 2018 (18 per cent of the eligible vote), to represent us the urgent need to rapidly increase turnout from a miserable 25 per cent and attain at least some credibility should have been paramount. Personal integrity alone would have had him place the code of conduct at the heart of everything he does but clearly that doesn’t fit in with his ambitions. In light of the current national political scandals, we deserve a full and frank response if confidence in the office of Mayor is to be established.

More than that we deserve the full concession restoring as an act of faith in our communities, their wellbeing, their health and financial needs in an area of deprivation and social isolation and exclusion. And just basic common decency. Attacking the Prime Minister over his alleged ministerial code deficiencies doesn’t sit well in a party which is equally cavalier when it comes to their own behaviour.

And if the Mayor can’t follow the requirements of selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership it should mean his resignation so that the people of South Yorkshire can select a Mayor who does want to follow the code of conduct and level up and improve the lives of at least a quarter of the electorate.

Leadership means so much more than handing out dollops our money hither and thither with little or no consultation or evidence of environmental or social impact.