DEVOLUTION: '˜The danger is that we lose everything' warns new Sheffield Chamber president
The new president of Sheffield Chamber has warned South Yorkshire risks losing it all and becoming an irrelevance if it fails to agree its devolution deal.
Speaking at the Sheffield Business Awards, John Hayward said a ‘wider Yorkshire’ deal might be an excellent thing - but it wasn’t on the table.
And while politicians were in deadlock over the South Yorkshire deal, money was being lost.
Mr Hayward, who is chief executive of Pressure Technologies, said: “The danger is that we lose everything, no £30 million a year and no wider Yorkshire deal either. But it goes deeper than that, we become the people you can’t do a deal with, the people with the reputation for backing out, being unreliable. We’ve been there in the past.
“The gravest risk we face is that South Yorkshire is seen as an irrelevance, a place you pass through on your way to Leeds, Newcastle or London. Business doesn’t have a vote but it has a voice and we need to use it.”
Mr Hayward, who is from Barnsley, said he was proud of the town.
“I’m from t’tarn, yes I’m from Barnsley, I was born there, I live there. And I am rightly proud of Barnsley but I’m equally proud of Sheffield and incredibly grateful for the way my business has been helped by this great city.
“I struggle with the fact that our South Yorkshire towns and cities don’t appear to be able to get on with each other. Maybe the name ‘Sheffield City Region’ doesn’t help in some quarters and in reality it is now a South Yorkshire deal.
“But, there is a deal on the table that will bring in £30 million a year for 28 years - it was 30 years but we’ve already lost the first two. £60 million given away!
“It’s safe to predict that for each £1 of devo deal money there will probably be another £2 of other grant funding which comes off the back of this. That’s £90 million a year - but that’s only the start because we know these amounts act as seed money and attract investment from business so maybe that £30 million could be worth £150 to £200 million a year.
“The politicians tell us - and we can see for ourselves - that we have not had our fair share of the cake over the years. South Yorkshire could do so much with this money, creating jobs, improving lives. So why are certain politicians refusing to get on board?
“A wider Yorkshire deal might be an excellent thing, I can go along with that, but there isn’t a wider Yorkshire deal on the table. I ask our politicians to do what business would do, take the deal that’s on offer and then work for the bigger deal.”