In the ongoing disaster that is South Yorkshire’s bus services, I welcome all efforts by the Mayor, Oliver Coppard, to fight for better funding. The previous Labour mayor, Dan Jarvis, massively underachieved in building, or even protecting public transport infrastructure.
In Hillsborough, the frequent and well-used 52A service now goes no further than Hillsborough Interchange. It has been replaced by the unreliable, hourly, 31 through to Wisewood and Loxley with no evening or Sunday service. Similar changes have happened to many services across Sheffield and South Yorkshire damaging the economy and people’s lives.
Now, with South Yorkshire’s Bus Services Improvement Plan receiving no government funding in 2022, there’s not only a huge public transport funding gap between the South and the North. There’s a growing divide between northern regions too and South Yorkshire faces yet more cuts.
Lessons can be learnt from other councils to help fund public transport. A workplace parking levy in Nottingham has raised almost £90 million over the last 10 years which has been re-invested into sustainable transport across the city. Green Party proposals to explore this in Sheffield continue to be blocked by Labour and Lib Dem councillors.
We must get buses back under local control. Dan Jarvis dithered before finally starting the legal process in March 2022, the last month of his 4-year term. Greater Manchester begins to get services back into public control this September. It’s going to take time in South Yorkshire and the Mayor must work hard to secure the funding needed for a successful transition when it finally happens.
The Tory government has created an appalling system that pits regions against each other. It causes great economic and social problems for those areas that lose out. We have no choice but to radically improve the quality of our funding bids and negotiation skills with the Government. But we also need to reverse a decade of tax cuts for the rich to properly fund all public services, including a public transport system in meltdown.
Find out more about the Green Party’s vision for transport in Sheffield and South Yorkshire here www.getsheffieldmoving.org
Councillor Toby Mallinson, Hillsborough Ward Green Party