We need to believe in ourselves as a City

We need to believe in ourselves as a City

In Peter Kay’s article “Time for Government to Narrow the Economic Gap between London and the Rest” in the Sheffield Telegraph, he summarises many important issues raised by the Bishop of Sheffield, Rt Rev Steven Croft.

Dr Croft is reported as calling for a “rebalancing” of the economy back towards manufacturing and the release of the creative potential of “great cities”. I have been in manufacturing all my working life and agree that a strategic approach is essential to allow Sheffield, where I was born and bred, to thrive and accelerate in its growth.

In my opinion any strategy needs to recognise the different roles of three distinct partners.

Firstly, central government, which can provide the framework, incentives and delivery of strategic resources. I was involved with and supported the establishment of Sheffield’s first University Technical College (UTC) which the government has been promoting, and paying for. Its focus is Engineering & Manufacturing and Creative Digital Media, exactly the areas Dr Croft highlighted as needed. The government is also, despite much opposition in the South, pushing for the better national transport links that will bring immense benefits to Sheffield once in place.

Secondly, the local council, which can prioritise where it focusses our resources locally. Picking up on another issue that the Bishop highlighted – transport, I can confirm that he is right to be concerned. I am standing as a candidate in the forthcoming local elections and the issue that has come up most frequently from my canvassing has been a concern about the poor level of investment locally in Sheffield’s transport infrastructure: primarily roads, bus also the reliability of public transport. There is also a perceived lack of support locally for those wanting to make a difference by setting up their own businesses, which brings me to my last area:

Thirdly, local people. We all want and value our great public services. I have been a school governor for 10 years, was on the board of Sheffield’s Strategic Health Authority and am on the Court of the University of Sheffield. However services can only be paid for and improved if we create the wealth in the first place to fund them: nurses need paying, schools need building and universities have to invest. To do this, two things need to happen. We need to move away from a spirit of dependency on others to do it for us and the scourge of embedded poverty. We also need to rekindle our entrepreneurial and creative spirit.

In short, we need to believe in ourselves as a City and we can achieve incredible results.