A letter to Dan Jarvis, the Sheffield City Region mayor, and his response

We wrote to Dan Jarvis, the Sheffield City Region mayor, on the 10th of October 2018 (see the bottom of the page for our letter).

** Update We received a response from Dan on the 20th of November.**

Dear Ian and signatories,

Many thanks for your letter and please accept my sincere apologies for the delay in responding. Thank you in particular for your advice on how we can take this work forward. It is much appreciated.

As I hope you know, I am hugely committed to supporting active travel through my Mayoralty. We have the opportunity to place active travel front and centre of our whole approach to our transport system.

In December I will be publishing a new vision for transport in the Sheffield City Region. Whilst this strategy will speak to a range of audiences and set out ambitions for road, rail, tram and tram-train networks it will also highlight the importance I am placing on active travel as part of an integrated public transport system. I believe this will be the first time that we have formally signalled our intent as a region to do this.

I am also committed to taking the best advice and developing an evidence-based active travel plan that is ambitious, deliverable and built on partnership. On that basis I have commissioned Professor Steve Haake of Sheffield Hallam University to undertake some initial work to build the evidence base to underpin my strategy.

I am expecting to see the initial results of this work very soon and hope to be able to share the outcome of that work widely with partners to help us develop the next stage of our plan.

I have also met with colleagues in Greater Manchester, in particular, Mayor Andy Burnham, Chris Boardman and British Cycling to learn from those places that are setting the benchmark for active travel investment.

I am also pleased to report that we have been successfully shortlisted for the next stage of the Transforming Cities Fund. I am working on a proposal which will enable us to put in place a plan for immediate investment in active travel schemes. This is being developed in advance of developing more detailed longer term proposals for the major element of the fund which is to be submitted in the early summer of 2019.

I have given considerable thought to the role of the Active Travel Commissioner. I am sure you can appreciate the importance of securing the right mix of skills and capabilities to help me drive this agenda forward. Whilst I am not in a position to update you on any appointment, I can assure you that my team and I are working hard to put this Commissioner role in place.

In the meantime I hope that this letter gives confidence that I am working hard to get this right. There is much for us to do and I hope that early in the new year I will be able to bring together all the key stakeholders and partners, including the signatories to your letter to discuss how we can deliver our joint active travel ambitions.

Yours sincerely,
Mayor Dan Jarvis MBE MP
Sheffield City Region

Dear Dan Jarvis,

It was refreshing and exciting to see in your election manifesto for Mayor of the Sheffield City Region a commitment to appoint an Active Travel Commissioner. You have clearly recognised the importance of enabling more people to walk and cycle as part of their daily lives, whether this is going to work, the shops or school.

The evidence to support active travel as a major benefit for health is compelling. Report after report demonstrates that inactivity is making people ill at great personal and societal costs. Unless more is done to get the region more active, any business growth will be squandered on increased taxation to fund health and social care.

You now have a fantastic opportunity to transform travel across South Yorkshire enabling more people to have a real choice to walk or cycle. The vast majority of transport trips in the region are of less than 5km. Many of these trips could easily be completed by foot or cycle. As well as the fantastic health benefits, more active travel will help reduce congestion and air pollution – there is so much to gain.

As we can see from Greater Manchester, very significant funds are available to build a world class network of walking and cycling routes. Over the next few years Greater Manchester will be investing £160 million in active travel, making an incredible difference to the region and creating a more attractive place to live and do business in. South Yorkshire needs a similar approach.

We urge you to get the Active Travel Commissioner in post immediately and ensure that they have the funds to make active travel across South Yorkshire a reality.

As you prepare to appoint an Active Travel Commissioner, we ask that you consider the following points:

  • The Commissioner should report directly to you. The change required to put active travel at the centre of the region’s transport strategy is considerable and will require effective leadership.
  • The Commissioner will need visible backing from yourself to make things happen.
  • A significant budget for enabling active travel is available in the form of the Transforming Cities fund. For South Yorkshire this could be in the region of £100 million.
  • The Commissioner should ensure that strategic active travel plans involve senior participation from the health and business communities, as well as transport planners. Linking health and transport is crucial for securing both the capital funding needed to deliver high-quality walking and cycling schemes on the ground, along with revenue-funded activities to promote walking and cycling among women, health patients, older or disabled people and those from disadvantaged groups and communities.

You and the Council leaders from Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield have a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity to get the region active. This will make an incredible improvement to health. A healthy region will be a prosperous one, enabling more wealth for more people.

We urge you to take action on active travel now.

Yours sincerely,

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