“Deeply disappointing”: mayor’s verdict on £30 million Levelling Up snub

LOSING out on Levelling Up cash to improve public transport in the region is “deeply disappointing” according to South Yorkshire mayor Oliver Coppard.

A £30 million bid to the goverment’s Levelling-Up fund proposed plans to fix South Yorkshire’s public transport system through a number of measures. These included digital journey planning and real time information, 600 new information points and stops and a SMART fare system that would offer buying options online and at stops.

But the scheme was not included among those given the green light by ministers last Thursday.

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Mr Coppard said: “This is deeply disappointing for South Yorkshire, and just the latest example of how the government’s “Levelling Up” mission isn’t working.

“Yorkshire as a whole got half the money that London and the south-east received and yet, £20 million has gone to the Prime Minister’s own constituency.”

He added: “This latest let-down is an attack on our local ambition to fix our public transport network — it comes at a time where South Yorkshire has lost 15 per cent of its bus network, whilst places like London and the southeast see theirs grow yet continue to receive levelling up funding.

“In its 12 ‘Levelling Up Missions’ the government promised us a ‘London-style transport network’ by 2030.

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“That’s just over 360 weeks away and yet, here we are, losing out on ‘Levelling Up’ transport funding for a third time.”

Mr Coppard also called for decisions regarding budgets to be made on a more local level instead of different regions competing for money from the governemnt.

He said: “Government need to devolve budgets and powers if we’re truly going to see levelling up happen.

“We know what works best for South Yorkshire better than anyone and with the right tools and resources we could transform our broken public transport network.

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“Instead, we have to go through the ridiculous process of government pitting regions against each other, all competing for pots of money from Westminster.

“You can’t level up through competition.

“It’s not fair and it’s not working.

“I’m not surprised the Tories want to stop using the phrase Levelling Up – because they know that since the last election, regional inequality has actually got worse.”

The decision to focus South Yorkshire’s Levelling Up Fund bid on fixing public transport came after the government also denied funding to the region’s Bus Service Improvement Plan from the National Bus Strategy.