Speech to Full Council: A Vision for Better Transport in Sheffield with Labour

*** Below is a copy of my remarks to the recent Full Council meeting, where I led Labour’s call for proper investment in Northern transport and infrastructure. Check against delivery ***
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Once again, the Tory government is letting the people of Sheffield down and taking us for a ride. 

The cancellation of electrification means passengers in Sheffield will be denied the faster, greener, more reliable train journeys we were promised. The London-centric Tories do not act in the interests of the whole UK. They have put their own survival ahead of everything else, finding £1 billion for a deal with the DUP, and it’s communities like ours in South Yorkshire that are paying the price.

The Tories are trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes by claiming that diesel bi-mode trains will deliver the same benefits as electrification, despite saying for years that failure to electrify the network will cause 20% more CO2, worsen air quality, lessen capacity and make services slower and less reliable AND more costly to maintain. The Tory spin isn’t fooling anyone.

It is absurd that it takes longer to travel by train from Liverpool to Hull than from London to Paris, yet the government spend £1500 more per head in London than the North.

But rather than addressing these disparities, the Conservatives are abandoning the North.

We need a different government, with a different vision. So not only will Labour deliver the promised electrification, Labour will nationalise franchises as they expire, Labour will invest £10bn to build a new Crossrail for the North and expand the rail network in order to drive economic growth and rebalance our economy for the many not the few.

I’d like to finish on a slightly more positive note and talk about HS2 and HS3. I’m pleased to see the Liberal Democrats are grudgingly welcoming the progress Labour has secured for city centre location, despite Nick Clegg’s view that it should be in Meadowhall. Many people said that a city-centre location would never happen, never be agreed and never be in the plan. They were all proved wrong.

This administration is focused, determined and succeeding in delivering HS2 in the best possible place for Sheffield and South Yorkshire. This is the result of the strong, determined leadership of our Leader Julie Dore, me and Labour.

Finally, Lord Mayor, this isn’t just about being Sheffield. Investment in transport is essential to rebalancing the economy and boosting growth and creating opportunities for all.

So Sheffield has the Council that it needs but Britain doesn’t have the government that it deserves. The sooner this dishonourable, discredited and dysfunctional government is put out of its misery – the better. Thank you very much.

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Speech to Full Council: Reflection on The Election

I’d like to take a moment to reflect on the  national results.

It’s clear now that the votes that cast on 7th May will have profound implications on our country and our city for a generation. Fewer than 10% of Sheffield’s votes were for the Tories.

It’s naturally tempting to crow about the Liberal Democrat’s defeats or the Green’s and UKIP’s failures, but I really don’t want to do that.

Because, for many of us, the prospect of the next five years of true-blue Tory government is a truly nightmare scenario, which fills us with nothing less than dread.

And this new threat requires a different response. We must not spend the next five years throwing rocks at each other and shouting and blaming each other.

We will have to work together across Sheffield’s different sectors, its different communities and its different interests to protect the city that we love – whoever, however and wherever.

Building a city of social justice, equality and fairness is difficult at the best of times.

But unless we bring Sheffield together, it will be nearly impossible with this Tory government, with very real consequences for all our constituents:

  • Our local NHS will probably not survive as we know it – unless we work together.
  • Our education system will become more marketised and fragmented – unless we work together
  • Our Council will continue to lose money as it’s taken from us and given to the South – unless we work together
  • Britain will be marginalised and weakened in Europe – unless we work together.
  • We will see our basic rights at work and our basic rights as humans watered down and sold off – unless we work together.
  • People with disabilities will be vilified and isolated by a cruel welfare system – unless we work together.
  • Our young and the poor will continue to pay for the mistakes of the old and the rich – unless we work together.
  • Our environment and our beautiful local National Park will be fracked, pillaged and polluted – unless we work together.
  • And the people of Sheffield, who work so hard, will not see their living standards improve – unless we work together.

I’d like to finish by saying it’s clear our city now faces many, new, potent threats.

But it’s also clear that there is a renewed resolve amongst local people to work together, to stand up for Sheffield and to protect the city we represent.

This resolve has helped us overcome threats in the past and I am sure it will do so again over the next five years and I will do everything I can – whoever, however and wherever – to protect our city from these threats.

*** CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY***