MAYOR WRITES LETTER TO THE SOUTH YORKSHIRE REGION
Published 15 May 2023 at 4:00pm
9th May 2023,
Dear South Yorkshire,
This week I begin my second year as South Yorkshire’s Mayor. Every day, I am grateful for the privilege of your support. In my first speech, I said that both the challenges and the possibilities in front of us were significant. I’m not sure anyone could have predicted quite how formidable some of those challenges would be.
We have had three Prime Ministers and four Chancellors of the Exchequer. Russia has continued its illegal war in Ukraine, driving up costs and disrupting global supply chains. We have faced a cost-of-living crisis and self-inflicted economic shocks, pushing businesses and families to the brink, and all too many beyond it. We have seen 15% of our bus network taken away, cutting services to the bone. And of course, Peel Group closed down our airport.
Despite those challenges, I know that our best days are in front of us. Everywhere I look in South Yorkshire, there is not only ambition, opportunity and potential, but a spirit hardened by experience, binding our communities together in hope for a better future. But to unlock our potential, we don’t just need hope, we need action: action to fix our broken public transport system, grow our economy, address the health inequalities that plague our communities, and to meet the challenge of the climate emergency.
I remain determined to lead that change. That’s why, since becoming Mayor, I have made it a priority to fix the buses – accelerating the process that will decide if we can bring the buses back into public control – and why I’ve already taken the decision to bring the tram network back in-house, for the first time in 30 years. I’ve become Chair of South Yorkshire’s Integrated Care Partnership and started working with world leading organisations and thinkers to help us address entrenched health inequalities across our region. I’ve brought innovative new businesses into South Yorkshire, with companies like Hybrid Air Vehicles now choosing our region to develop the next generation of air travel. And I’ve worked with the government to agree an investment zone for South Yorkshire.
In the coming weeks we will launch our Citizens’ Assembly on climate, to put our communities’ voices and choices at the heart of our plan for reaching net-zero by 2040. We’ll start planting the first of 1.4 million trees, and we’ll launch our plans for investing in all four corners of South Yorkshire. And of course, we’ll continue to fight to reopen DSA, working with Doncaster Council to pursue a compulsory purchase order for our airport.
For over forty years, our region has all too often been on the wrong side of change. Our communities have been fractured by underinvestment and industrial decline, and held back by a politics that at best has seen the North as a problem to be solved rather than a power to be unleashed. Turning our fortunes around won’t be quick and it won’t be easy. I know the pace of change can often feel all too frustrating. But genuine, lasting change takes time. We will need willing partners in central government, and to restate and renew our own commitment to change, but no matter what it takes, I am determined that together we will restore the pride, the purpose and the prosperity of South Yorkshire.
Oliver Coppard, South Yorkshire’s Mayor
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