Dan Jarvis under fire for lack of progress as South Yorks Metro Mayor

South Yorkshire’s Labour Metro Mayor, Dan Jarvis, has come in for coruscating criticism by a leading Sheffield Labour councillor for making little headway in his role, six months after he was elected.

In an exclusive interview with the Sheffield Star, Mazher Iqbal, Sheffield’s Cabinet Member for Business and Investment, has voiced criticisms of Jarvis that have been gaining ground in Labour circles for some time.

The four councils that make up South Yorkshire – Sheffield, Barnsley, Rotherham and Doncaster – all Labour controlled – remain deadlocked over whether to accept the Government’s devo deal, with Doncaster and Barnsley refusing to ratify the agreement, preferring a county-wide devolution model instead.

Coun Iqbal said: “We have a Mayor that can change people’s lives and the destiny of the region but he has no powers or money and this can’t carry on.

“If I was not doing my job, I would expect to be sacked. I would expect my boss to say, ‘you have been in post for six months, this is what we agreed – what have you have achieved?’

“If I had not delivered I would expect them to say ‘clear your desk on your way out.’ That would happen in any other job. That’s how the world works.”

He added: “Dan has spoken about homelessness but his brief is the devolution deal. He put himself forward for this job to represent the region.

“The other Mayors were given the funding but we now have to compete with everywhere else for it, which is another frustration.”

Although tasked with a range of strategic powers over transport, skills and economic development and in charge of a £30 million a year funding pot, little headway has been made because the deal has not been signed-off, to the frustration of Sheffield and Rotherham councils.

Coun Iqbal added: “Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool are in the Premier League. If Dan had signed the deal, we would be in the Premier League too.

“Those resources are life changing but this is just holding us back from realising our potential as a city region.

Coun Iqbal also voiced concerns that the business community in South Yorkshire was unhappy at the pace of progress.

He said: “Dan needs to explain himself to the business community. We are a city that makes, innovates and creates but we want to see some action.”

In response Dan Jarvis said progress in getting the stalled devo deal over the line required agreement of all four local authorities as well as the government.

“It is in the best interests of our residents and businesses if all partners recognise this and engage constructively in the process, so together we can find a way to break the long-standing deadlock,” he said.

“I will continue to implement the manifesto on which I was elected, including growing an inclusive economy, ensuring our people have the required skills and training, and making sure our transport network is fit for the 21st century.

He added: “On a personal note, it is particularly disappointing that Coun Iqbal has chosen to take his concerns to a newspaper rather than speak to me in person. If he had, I would have explained how the devolution legislation works, and why tackling homelessness is important to both me and our local community, and was in the manifesto on which I was elected.”

Dan Jarvis initially received criticism for double-jobbing when he decided to retain his Barnsley Central seat while taking up the South Yorkshire Mayoral role.

He is in favour of a Yorkshire-wide devolution arrangement, rather than just a South Yorkshire deal, but ministers have repeatedly made clear a ‘One Yorkshire’ arrangement is simply not on the table.

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3 Responses to “Dan Jarvis under fire for lack of progress as South Yorks Metro Mayor”

  1. Anne says:

    Not sure if this is a true reflection – always thought Dan has a lot of ability – give him a chance.
    Talking of leadership – a potential Tory leader is being identified – Justine Greening, while another Tory minister identified as being sadly lacking in any ability – Matt Hancock -could not identify any benefits to the NHS following Brexit. The Tories would do better to promote Sarah Wollaston – she has worked in the nhs, understands the nhs, respected by those working in the nhs, has the intellect to problem solve, and comes across as an able, nice person.

  2. steve says:

    Jarvis wants the penny and the bun: he’s blocking effective leadership in South Yorkshire because he wants to cling on to leadership ambitions in Westminster.

    It’s time to give him the old heave-ho on both counts.

  3. Clem says:

    The South Yorks City Region business has been a balls up virtually from the start and Jarvis is only the latest to be caught up in it. The basic idea was fine, at least in terms of the Government initiative it was a response to, creating a single area of the Sheffield, the other Don Valley towns, Barnsley to the North and the immediate area to the South of Sheffield as far as Chesterfield. There are common problems, mostly arising through deindustrialisation, and other similarities and the transport networks can easily be more closely and effectively aligned as they used to be. It also makes sense as a larger version of the core ‘Travel to Work Area’. So far so good. Quite why Leeds-Bradford etc couldn’t manage to put together a coherent bid given their shared similarities is beyond me but there you go.

    The trouble began because of the pushback by Derbyshire Council against including Chesterfield and the area immediately North of it. Because of this it was necessary to carry out a public consultation to measure its population’s views on this. This is where Sheffield City Council, including (especially) Coun Iqbal, managed to balls things up completely. This is exactly what you would expect from the people who gave us the World Student Games, NCPM, the Earth Centre, Digital Region, turning the Central Library into a hotel (to name but a few of their other triumphs). The initial consultation asked a lot of questions but failed to include the obvious one: ‘Are you actually in favour of this happening?’. The consultation was struck down by judicial review (the judge was – rightly – rather scathing about the omission) and another one ordered. This, which eventually found a large majority for going ahead with the new region, put back the Mayoral election and official launch of the Combined Authority by at least 18 months. By this time Barnsley and Doncaster had had second thoughts and wanted out to join in the ‘All-Yorkshire’ application, self-evidently unworkable because of both the size and the disparities between the various constituent areas which run directly counter to both the spirit of the government’s initiative and the explicit criteria for bid evaluation. The government has said that the Sheffield based area option is the only one available but still the various local councillors have continued arsing about. Personally I think Jarvis must have been having a bad brain day when he decided to run for Mayor. It was obvious then, and has become ever more obvious since, that this was not going to work. As we are seeing now. Jarvis is effectively Mator of Nowhere and will remain so for the foreseeable future.

    As a transplanted Lancastrian I take a certain grim ironic satisfaction from seeing the way the Scousers and Mancs have managed to grab the goodies on offer but the Yorkies can’t even get their arses off first base. But in the end it reflects badly on Labour here and only adds to public dissatisfaction with the general uselessness of South Yorkshire councillors.

    And, BTW, ‘coruscating’ does not mean what you think it does. It means glittering, flashing or shimmering or brilliant in style. And one thing Mazeer Iqbal has never been accused of is being a brilliant stylist.

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