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Biased Department of Transport cronies

Great News. Chris Grayling, The Minister for Transport, who has done so much for transport in the north and for Sheffield in particular has announced that the government intends to proceed with the £20 billion (and the rest!) development of Heathrow Airport –in the south-east in case you don’t know.

Second on a list of dubious justifications for this decision was ‘it will benefit the whole country’. So we can look forward to basking in the spinoff for this enormous investment in the south in the same way as we are fully enjoying the benefits of the £20billion (and the rest) made on Crossrail 1, and then the equally beneficial to us, Crossrail 2 – a further £20 or £40 billion who knows, but definitely in London – for all our benefits..

We have barely got over the superb nationwide benefits which heavy investment in the London Olympics brought to ‘the whole country’ and before that could hardly handle all the local benefits which developing the National Football Stadium and the Millennium Dome in London suburbs – where else? – brought us.

Of course austerity must still apply. Well in the north and midlands at least, and it would be naive to suggest there is a money tree somewhere, because it has been hacked down and consumed – in the metropolis.

So it is well over due for our politicians to make a stand against the perpetual assumption that all meaningful investment has to be in London and the south east for the benefit of the rich and famous and non-doms.

Where might these voices be heard? Clearly not from Conservatives, who are a totally southern centric party. Unlikely from Labour- who nobody seems to know what they stand for any more –least of all themselves. And certainly not from local councillors who are a shambles more focussed on eliminating trees and prosecuting their electorate.

This is an urgent case for the new regional mayor to make common purpose with his peers in Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool, and not only come up with proposals for serious development expenditure away from the south-east, but more particularly to provide resistance to the long standing and unfair perceived wisdom amongst Government departments and London-based civil servants that the only place meaningful expenditure can be made is in London. And they can start with Chris Grayling and his biased Department of Transport cronies. That really would be good news for us all

Richard Lewis

By email

People can’t escape political decisions

There were a number of interesting articles in last week’s Sheffield Telegraph.

First off, the initiative to promote health and wellbeing and for Sheffield to become a world leader in the field of prevention of ill-health. Great if the city can pull it off and there is a chance with the two Universities being involved.

Interesting that our Sheffield City Region Mayor, Dan Jarvis MP, acknowledged the presence of an innovation corridor which already link a number of sites that ‘excel in research, engineering and advanced manufacturing’ across the South Yorkshire Region. Maybe he is beginning to realise that the SCR does not need to hang onto the coat-tails of Leeds and York to become a national and global force to be reckoned with.

Next was ‘Northern Lights’, advertising the opening of the Victorian Giants exhibition, but digressing into inspirational Sheffield figures of the past who have left a lasting legacy here.

Ranging from prosperous – and generous – benefactors like J G Greaves through innovators, artists, campaigners to individuals like Brendan Ingle who helped young people to transform their lives.

Last was the item ‘Local Democracy’ which focused on the lack of engagement with local politics especially and suddenly I wasn’t so positive any more.

I am not a supporter of the current administration that we have in Sheffield. I do not believe it is representative of the majority of people who live here. From what I see and hear, it is undemocratic in its use of the ‘strong leader’ model to stifle debate and to push through ill-conceived and poorly planned measures.

It seems to consist of a clique with a limited range of talents and experiences who will not listen to others with a different view point. They don’t have to agree but it might lead to better decision making. The cabinet members may argue that they have been given a mandate through the ballot box but on turnouts of around the 20-30 per cent levels in traditional Labour strongholds it smacks more of apathy than belief in the message. It’s strange how this contrasts with arguments over the legitimacy of national governments elected with turnouts of over 70 per cent!

What links these three issues? To me it demonstrates that apathy produces results which are at best mediocre, but often pull our city down.

In contrast, it was good to be reminded of what has been achieved here over generations by groups and individuals with a vision, who were inspirational and who understood how to engage with others to bring about change. Also, that others are following in their footsteps, still striving for change, improvements and innovations. So good luck to them and to political campaigners who actively seek to engage with people.

Whatever the views on politics and politicians, people can’t escape the impact of political decisions on their lives so it makes sense to get more involved.

B Masters


Telegraph letters about to go the same way?

The letters page in the Star has been made very tedious by a small group of people (myself included) endlessly banging on about the EU in what one exasperated reader accurately called “a dialogue of the deaf”.

Is the Telegraph letters page about to go the same way?

J Robin Hughes