Agenda item


To receive a statement from the Leader of the Council in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 9.


The Leader presented his statement and put on record his thanks to the Mayor for her 3 years of service. He also thanked the outgoing Mayor of the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority, Dan Jarvis, who had decided not to seek re-election. The Leader explained that the Mayor had been a good friend to him over the years and had been elected at a time when there had been great uncertainty over devolution in South Yorkshire. The approach of the Mayor had brought people together for the good of South Yorkshire and he was owed a debt of gratitude by the people in Rotherham for the work he had done. He had secured hundreds of millions of pounds of investment in the region when it was most needed and led a co-ordinated approach to flood defence work and bus franchising.


An update on Council activity was given. The Government’s Council Tax Rebate Scheme had been launched but the Leader explained that this was not related to Council Tax and was not a rebate. The first direct debit payments would be paid out by the end of April 2022 and the cheques would follow in May. The Council’s Energy Bill Grant Scheme would be in place by the end of the month and details would be circulated to Members.


The DWP had put forward the Council for a partnership award in relation to the Kickstart scheme. This scheme aimed to help young people who were at risk of becoming long term unemployed by offering work placements paid at the Real Living Wage. Rotherham had done more than any other local authority in the region in terms of that work and that was testimony to the commitment by the Council to the young people within the Borough.


Work was due to start imminently on the Century Business Centre at Manvers and demolition works had commenced around Rotherham Market and the Rain Building. Construction of the flood barrier scheme around Riverside and Forge Island was well underway and those infrastructure improvements were required to make the borough more prosperous and a better place to live.


In relation to the comments about Mayor Dan Jarvis and his work on buses, Councillor Bennett-Sylvester stated that one of the investments that had been secured was £15 million for 27 low emission buses. He expressed concerns over giving public money to private business and questioned what checks and measures were in place to ensure low emission buses would continue on the routes where they were most needed, specifically the Dearne routes which do suffer with connectivity issues?


The Leader explained that the electric buses would be based in Rawmarsh due to the air quality concerns and the links to Barnsley and Doncaster. At present, the charging infrastructure would not allow the buses to deviate from the agreed routes around Rawmarsh but the development of more electric charging infrastructure could make this a possibility in the future. The Leader agreed to provide further information outside of the meeting in relation to the contractual requirements concerning the routes.