CANDIDATES standing in the South Yorkshire Mayoral race put their cases forward in a lively radio debate on Wednesday night.
Hosted at BBC Radio Sheffield by presenter Toby Foster in partnership with the Rotherham Advertiser, The Star and Barnsley Chronicle, the debate was organised to enable candidates to state their cases in front of a Question Time-style audience.
Local candidates include Mick Bower of the Yorkshire Party, who lives in Whiston and stood for Rotherham MP in 2017, and Rotherham resident Naveen Judah, who is standing on the South Yorkshire Save Our NHS platform.
The others are Barnsley MP Dan Jarvis (Labour), Ian Walker (Conservative), Hannah Kitching (Liberal Democrat), Rob Murphy (Green) and David Allen (English Democrat).
Mr Bower said: “We have met a lot of apathy, confusion and genuine anger. This is a full-time job and people see Dan Jarvis as the front-runner but they don’t see the commitment.
“If I am elected the Yorkshire Party has got a clear vision.
“The first few months are going to be absolutely vital and you need someone who is going to be working 24/7 to sell it to the people.
“Somebody needs to sell the deal. That is why Dan is unsuitable for the job.
“People are sick of backroom deals. We are seeing over and over again the secrecy and, as a father of daughters in Rotherham I think you can guess why I got into politics.”
Mr Judah said he had the time to devote to the job and added: “I don’t have any political alliances or pre-conceived notions. I will throw ideological dogma out of the window.
“I want to set up processes and structures so things aren’t done in the way they have been done. There will not be much immediate access to funds so the money available should probably best be used on education so lives can be changed and we can teach better eating habits.”
Mr Jarvis said he was the best placed to work with the leaders of the four councils and to give the region a national voice, and added: “My life would be considerably easier and considerably less hassle if I wasn’t doing this but I am doing it for South Yorkshire.”
He said pooling resources as a region would enable South Yorkshire to focus on attracting investment, developing its skills base and growing its economy.
The election will be held on May 3, with people in Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield eligible to vote, and the result revealed the following day.
The four-year mayoral post has been controversial as no devolution and funding deal has yet been agreed, unlike similar roles in Greater Manchester and the West Midlands.
The debate will be aired on BBC Radio Sheffield at 9am tomorrow (Friday).