I was the only Metro Mayor elected without a devolution deal in place. I have split my time as best I can and as required by the demands of both roles, a bit like a Government Minister has to.
Throughout my term of office, I have worked tirelessly to represent the people and communities of South Yorkshire – working seven days a week and way beyond an average working week in order to successfully fulfil both roles. My time is organised around commitments and votes in Parliament, and relevant engagements in my capacity as Mayor and MP, splitting my week between Westminster and South Yorkshire.
My role in Parliament, including the opportunity to directly lobby ministers and raise crucial issues effecting the region in the Commons, has undoubtedly helped secure a better deal for South Yorkshire and was crucial in finally getting our Devolution Deal over the line. I have always said that being both a Mayor and an MP was never sustainable as a long-term arrangement, and in September I announced my decision not to stand for re-election as Mayor next year.
My work as Mayor was unpaid for two and a half years and following the final agreement of a Devolution deal in July 2020, an independent panel recommended the position of South Yorkshire Mayor be paid a salary of £79,000, which was approved by the Mayoral Combined Authority board in January 2021.
I committed to use the money to both support my work as mayor and a range of good causes: from local organisations that have supported our communities through the toughest of times; to national charities that hold a special place in my heart.
So far, a number of donations have been made to charities and good causes, both national and local. These include a very significant donation to Cancer Research UK, and a series of donations to support a range of organisations and causes including; Weston Park Cancer Charity, The Woodland Trust, English Heritage, National Trust, The Royal British Legion, a local school’s competition, a local school, a local football team, a local council Mayors charity. Further donations will be made over the coming months.
Additionally, I have launched a tree planting scheme, allowing schools, community groups, churches and sports clubs to receive a tree or trees for their grounds, absolutely free of charge. The costs of this scheme will be entirely met from the Mayoral Salary. I have already committed to planting many trees across South Yorkshire and I look forward to working with a wide range of groups across our region to get trees in the ground and work to make our area as environmentally sustainable green as we can. The scheme will continue until the Mayoral salary fund has been expended.
The tree planting season has just begun – so if, like me, you are passionate about trees and our local environment and you run an organisation or know of one that would be interested in receiving a tree through this initiative, please get in touch!