Debate over devolution and talk about HS2 and big business investment can make the Sheffield City Region idea seem a long way from the lives of ordinary people.
But a new plan aims to change that by bringing together all sectors as part of an inclusive and collaborative 25-year vision.
Launched yesterday, a report called ‘A Better Future Together’ identifies six areas where work is needed to make the region a success.
It will look at better transport, equality in health and education, an improved environment, creating more skilled jobs – and training workers to fill them.
Drawn up with the help of hundreds of contributors of by Sheffield’s two universities and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, the report aims to put political differences aside and focus on helping improve the lives of everyone.
But it also challenges people from business, education, health, environmental and charity sectors to get involved.
Speaking at the launch Tony Pedder, chairman of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, the University of Sheffield and Forgemasters, said it could not be a ‘shiny document that sits on a shelf’ but had to translate into action.
He added: “The scale of our collective ambition needs to be bolder, the diversity of well-intentioned projects needs to evolve into coherent long-term projects of effective action and a new culture of collective strategic action is needed by all.”
Among the ideas within the document are the creation of innovation districts to encourage enterprise and research, increase support for small businesses and develop a plan to retain high quality graduates.
The report highlights the need to focus on the prevention of disease, and aims to turn the city region into the most physically active in the UK.
It calls for a plan to address the lack of qualifications and competence in the region and low performance in some schools.
A strategy to create an ‘urban national park’ is included, connecting the Peak District, Sherwood Forest, Dearne Valley and the South Yorkshire Forest.
And the report says the region should have a digital network meeting the best global standards.
In front of an audience of 150 from various sectors across the city region, Mr Pedder called for people to pledge their support in any way they could.
And highlighting the importance of a long-term vision, the University of Sheffield’s vice-chancellor Prof Sir Keith Burnett said success would not come without the kind of partnership proposed in the report.
And Sheffield Halllam University’s vice-chancellor Prof Chris Husbands said it was time to start thinking not in isolation, in terms of particular schools or areas, but in terms of people as a whole.
He added: “The vision for the region, set out by the two universities and the hospital trust sets out an ambitious agenda for change.
“It depends on the region’s institutions and politicians working closely together to deliver a brighter future for everyone.”
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