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Mayor sets out vision

MAYOR SETS OUT VISION

Published 7 May 2024 at 1:33pm

The newly re-elected Mayor of South Yorkshire, Oliver Coppard, has set out his vision to connect people across South Yorkshire to opportunities through an integrated public transport network that puts people at its centre.

Key announcements the Mayor has made on the first day of his new term in office include:

  • A commitment to start rolling out an integrated public transport system across South Yorkshire which connects buses, Supertram and active travel, by 2028
  • A decision on bus reform to be taken within 12 months
  • Plans for Supertram extensions to be set out in 2025 and put to initial public consultation, ahead of proposals being taken to Government 
  • Doncaster / Sheffield Airport Sustainable Aviation Hub development to progress alongside plans to re-open the airport 
  • A pledge to fully involve local people and ensure communities shape plans for South Yorkshire’s integrated public transport network 

These announcements support the Mayor’s vision for a public transport network with people at its heart - connecting local people to jobs, opportunities and healthcare services in a comfortable, affordable and safe way. South Yorkshire’s integrated transport network will be designed in partnership with communities to support the region’s ambitions – helping to grow our economy, reducing health inequalities and improving our environment.

The Mayor has set out his priorities for a transformed public transport network at the University of Sheffield AMRC Training Centre. Despite many communities being geographically close to the Advanced Manufacturing Park and the AMRC Training Centre – a place of excellence attracting highly skilled people and providing training opportunities through apprenticeships, many local people struggle to access the area by public transport which closes them off to these opportunities. Analysis commissioned by the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority found that fewer than 1% of people across South Yorkshire live within a 30-minute public transport journey of the Advanced Manufacturing Park.

South Yorkshire's Mayor, Oliver Coppard, said: “I refuse to accept a situation where people living across South Yorkshire aren’t able to access opportunities in South Yorkshire. There’s talent and opportunity right across our region, but it is only by connecting the two that we will unlock South Yorkshire's full potential.

“So on day one of my Mayoral term, I'm today committing to start rolling out a new South Yorkshire integrated public transport network by the end of this four year term. That’s how we’ll make sure that everyone who lives here can access work or training, see a doctor, see friends and family and - crucially - access opportunity.

“We'll start by taking a decision on bus reform within 12 months and next year we’ll set out our initial plans for the extension of the South Yorkshire Supertram network. We'll also continue to support the reopening of Doncaster / Sheffield Airport, and the creation of a Sustainable Aviation Hub at Gateway East. And we’ll build on our commitment to active travel with a focus on making South Yorkshire the best place in the UK for kids to walk, wheel or cycle.

“I have said I want to restore the pride, purpose and prosperity of South Yorkshire. That means connecting talent with opportunity, and giving everyone across Barnsley, Rotherham, Doncaster and Sheffield both freedom and choice about how they travel and move; putting people at the centre of our plans, not just for our transport network but in everything we do.”

Supertram

The Mayor’s commitment to set out initial plans for Supertram extensions next year, ahead of a public consultation, comes after Supertram was brought back under public control in March after 27 years.

Opportunities are already being explored to expand the light rail network by using tram trains to operate between Sheffield and Stocksbridge and along the Barrow Hill Line which runs between Chesterfield and Sheffield. Options for additional connections across the city, for example to the hospitals, are being investigated.

After Supertram was brought back into public control, a public survey was launched to get people’s views on improving the trams, including on personal safety, cleanliness, condition and maintenance of seating, tram stop information, bike facilities and being able to take dogs on a tram. This closed in late April and the results of the survey will be used to inform improvements for the tram over the coming months. The Mayor has pledged to build upon this approach and design South Yorkshire’s integrated transport network in partnership with communities.

As well as hearing from the public on what they want to see, generation-changing improvements are afoot, with plans to refurbish all of the trams by March 2027 and have a whole new fleet rolled out by 2032, subject to government funding.

Bus Reform

In March, Mayor Oliver Coppard welcomed the Franchising Assessment which stated that the preferred option was to bring buses back under public control with depots and fleet owned by the Mayoral Combined Authority (MCA). The Mayor has now committed to ensuring the Bus Reform assessment process is completed within 12 months.

The next step in this process is for the MCA to obtain an independent audit of the assessment in order to proceed to consultation. A 12-week public consultation will be run, ensuring people are at the heart of the process, with local passengers, businesses and transport providers able have their say before the Mayor takes the decision as to whether to implement bus reform.

The Mayor has been committed to bus reform since day one of his election, with feedback from over 30 public meetings on bus services across all four boroughs in South Yorkshire telling him the current system is not working for them.

Plan for Good Growth and the Skills Strategy

In March, the Mayor launched the South Yorkshire Plan for Good Growth and Skills Strategy which will support his overarching vision to develop the region’s economic strengths - including building on its reputation as the UK’s hot spot for advanced manufacturing.

The Mayor’s Plan for Good Growth sets out how South Yorkshire will attract investment and income into the region and grow more secure, high-paid jobs. It will achieve this by supporting the development of four Growth Areas – the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District, Sheffield City Centre and Innovation Spine, South Yorkshire Airport City, and Barnsley Town Centre – as well as improving connection and community through investment in the region’s economic and social infrastructure.

The Skills Strategy sets out three missions that – together with the Plan for Good Growth - will ensure residents of South Yorkshire can stay near but go far. These are:

  • To move those far from the labour market into work or to be ready for work;
  • To raise attainment of core knowledge and skills; and,
  • To increase the supply of a high-skilled workforce

Over the coming months, plans will be set out for community engagement and planning to deliver the objectives of the Plan for Good Growth and Skills Strategy.

Doncaster Sheffield Airport

In February, the Mayor announced a major step toward re-opening Doncaster-Sheffield Airport (DSA) and a 10-year plan to drive economic growth in Doncaster. This was followed by Doncaster City Council signing a 125-year lease for the former DSA in March which will help ensure the future of the airport site.

The Mayor, City of Doncaster Council and the MCA have worked tirelessly in the interests of the public and businesses in South Yorkshire to find a way to re-open it that is legally and financially sound and protects the taxpayer. This work is continuing.

Last summer, the MCA awarded City of Doncaster Council £3.1 million to prepare an Outline Business Case to take control of the airport through a leasing arrangement, re-establish operations under a new business model, and use the asset as an anchor for growth at the wider Gateway East site to support economic regeneration and benefits to the city and region as a whole.

City of Doncaster Council has had £138 million made available by the MCA via Gainshare to support economic ambitions including as outlined in the Doncaster Place Investment Plan which includes South Yorkshire Airport City and Gateway East.

Crucially, the Outline Business Case is built on creating a sustainable airport hub, with the airport anchoring a sector specific focus on aviation-related advanced manufacturing, advanced engineering and the growing jet-zero and decarbonisation industries. Applied research is one of South Yorkshire’s core strengths as evidenced through McClaren, Boeing, Rolls-Royce, and Hybrid Air Vehicles choosing to locate in the region. The opportunity exists to locate the next wave of advanced manufacturing at Gateway East connected to global markets through a reopened DSA.

Linking the return of aviation to the UK’s first Investment Zone worth £160 million with a focus on advanced manufacturing could present significant opportunities for businesses and communities in Doncaster and the wider region, helping address long term challenges in productivity, worklessness and low wages, and poor life outcomes that hold South Yorkshire back.

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Last Updated: 09/05/2024

Published In: Transport, Mayor, Featured

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