ROTHERHAM’S rank of 364th out of 379 in a national “prosperity index” prompted a row between the borough’s Labour and Tory camps.
London-based think-tank the Legatum Institute’s 2021 list is based on factors like enterprise, education, safety and health.
RMBC opposition group leader Cllr Emily Barley, Conservative, asked what the council would do to ensure a better performance in future.
Cllr Chris Read, ruling Labour group leader, said: “It is indeed a sad reflection on 11 years of Conservative government that, despite Boris Johnson’s bluster about ‘levelling up’, such a ranking leaves a community with Rotherham’s relative deprivation in such a position.
“The prosperity index rankings cover a number of pillars. Rotherham is doing better for some pillars and less well on others such as social capital.
“For example, on enterprise conditions Rotherham ranks as 71 and on infrastructure Rotherham ranks 156.
“This would indicate that the right enterprise conditions and infrastructure are in place to build a prosperous future, although this will also be influenced by the amount and variety of investment opportunities available to the borough and the region.”
Cllr Read noted that Rotherham’s economy was classed among the fastest growing prior to the pandemic and said he hoped that progress could continue in future.
Cllr Barley highlighted the Rotherham’s low ranking in the index for depression (368th), obesity (375th), homicide (338th) and burglary (353rd).
She added: “It’s disappointing to see Cllr Read try to dodge responsibility again for what is happening in Rotherham.
“The data makes two things very clear: first, that similar areas with similar industrial backgrounds are doing better than Rotherham, and second, that many of the issues on which Rotherham has fallen behind are within the council’s influence or direct control.
“Specifically, Rotherham ranks 371st out of 379 local authorities for local government restrictions on business, showing that RMBC’s actions are holding back businesses from being started, growing and employing more people.
“The Labour-run council’s failures on child sexual exploitation have damaged community relations, and you can see the long-lasting effects on community cohesion in the figures too. For example, Rotherham ranks 345th for social tolerance and 369th for respect for different religions.”