Dan Jarvis to make a decision on his future as mayor or MP but priority now is on South Yorkshire as he hits back at critics
South Yorkshire mayor Dan Jarvis has said he will make a decision in the near future and decide whether he wants to continue as mayor or an MP.
Jarvis, who holds elected roles as MP for Barnsley Central and Sheffield City Region mayor, defended the decision to take on the job and said his access to ministers in Westminster was ‘invaluable’.
But he conceded that he will have to decide at the latest by the start of 2022 when Jarvis will have to alert the Labour party of his intentions whether to stand for re-election for mayor or not.
His role as mayor has been criticised by opposition groups with one saying he should have made a decision on which job he would vacate after the money and powers were agreed in 2020.
But a senior SCR source said a mayoral by-election would cost taxpayers around £2 million, if Jarvis decided to continue as MP for Barnsley Central and stand down as mayor.
Jarvis defended his decision and said the role in 2018 had ‘no money, no power and no salary’ and he was the ‘best person to achieve that’.
The powers and money did come in 2020 after years of deadlock between the councils. Jarvis is entitled to nearly £80,000 a year as mayor but donates it to good causes.
Bur Sheffield Liberal Democrat group leader Coun Shaffaq Mohammed said Jarvis he needed to decide ‘sooner rather than later’ and added he didn’t want the mayor’s ‘political ambitions’ in Westminster to get in the way of South Yorkshire prospering.
Doncaster Conservative group leader Jane Cox said while it wasn’t for her to speculate on Jarvis’s future, she did not believe anyone could do both jobs effectively.
The issue has arisen again as the mayoral term is up in 12 months with another election planned for May 2022 and the planned by-election in Batley & Spen following Tracy Brabin standing down as MP to become West Yorkshire mayor.
Jarvis can do both roles as he doesn’t have powers of the police & crime commissioner unlike Brabin.
Coun Mohammed, said: “We have a part-time mayor, simple as that. We’ve seen what Andy Burnham has achieved in Manchester, we’ve seen what Ben Houchen has achieved in the north east and Andy Street in the Midlands, and quite frankly, we’ve not been there.
“We had all the issues of disunity within the South Yorkshire Labour leaders that has cost us valuable time and resources.
“He’s got to get off the fence sooner rather than later,
“Be the mayor if you want to be the mayor that’s great, carry on with the job and then seek re-election.
“Or carry on being the MP for Barnsley and ultimately you might get a crack at the leadership in future but it’s not good enough for us at the moment to have him in a sort of halfway-house and it never was at the start.”
In response, Jarvis said: “I’m the only mayor in England who inherited a situation where the powers and money were not in place and I’ve had to fight to get that agreement. There was no salary for the role at the time.
“This is a statement of fact, every other mayor inherited a situation where the powers and the money were in place.
“As we were doing that, we’ve been dealing with a global pandemic that has had a catastrophic impact on our economy. That has been my focus over the past year or so supporting our businesses, making sure we’ve got the basis of an investment plan to draw down half a billion pounds to the single largest amount of money and investment that South Yorkshire will ever see.
“We’re in the process of delivering more than twice the level of activity across South Yorkshire in this financial year than has ever been done before.
“We wouldn’t have got piles of money in place, had I not stayed on. This situation is different from other parts of the country, not least because as you know, I’m not the Police and Crime Commissioner, unlike Tracy in West Yorkshire.
“I am doing the very best that I can for South Yorkshire and that is my focus, rather than a introspective, selfish kind of issue about what I’m going to do, because I don’t think most people really care, and I don’t.
“What I care about is doing the best that I possibly can as the mayor and that really is my focus at the moment.”
Doncaster Conservative group leader Jane Cox added: “The newly elected West Yorkshire Major is stepping down as she has the Police and Crime Commissioner portfolio where the South Yorkshire Mayor does not.
“However I don’t believe any MP can carry out the mayor’s role effectively as their offices are extremely busy.
“It is, however, a decision for Dan Jarvis and not one for me to speculate about.”