South Yorkshire born and bred Simon Biltcliffe is running for regional mayor on behalf of his devolutionary party, the Yorkshire Party.
The self-professed, eco-capitalist wants there to be drive for change in the county and less powers deriving from Westminster.
He tells Sheffield Wire what his key focus areas are and why he wants to run.
Sheffield Wire: What pushed you to run for mayor?
Simon Biltcliffe: I want to bring a bit of common sense and a bit of humanity and quite a lot of experience into delivering a better political solution for the people of South Yorkshire generally. And this is a great way of us making a difference in terms of devolution which is what is needed in South Yorkshire.
There’s more people in Yorkshire than there is in Scotland and twice as many as in Wales. And yet, we’ve got no political clout. If you leave everything to Westminster you get inconceivable decisions that they make on our behalf that they just have no idea how important these things are to the people here, whether they are left or right, they index everything what it means to Westminster and their careers rather than what it means to the people who are affected.
SW: When you say ‘leaving everything to Westminster’ do you mean something in particular, such as the levelling up scheme?
SB: Look at the decisions that have been made, look at the funding that they give, look at the opportunities they give and it is a fraction of what it should be. It would be different if they lived here. It doesn’t matter to them transport as they get the fast train between London and Manchester. They would never go across the Snake Pass from Sheffield to Manchester, which is a slow service.
If I get this position, it would be seismic because it’ll be the first time ever a devolutionary party in England would be in a position of authority.
SW: Transportation in the region is on everyone’s lips at the moment. How would you resolve this issue?
SB: I would try integrating transportation through the region; better buses, better trains, better trams. At current, the level of service is woefully inadequate. And of course it adversely affects not just people’s lives on a daily basis, but also the productivity for the whole region, especially when you have one in four people that don’t have access to independent transport.
It makes my blood boil when I hear the Prime Minister claim how good TfL is. For every pound we get, London gets about seven. It just doesn’t seem fair. God knows how many billons they get for transportation and we get nothing like that. This is unfair and needs to change.
I would also like to digitise the sector with trains having reliable service.
SW: What is a key policy that you want to drive should you get the position?
SB: If I had to drive one, it would be lifelong learning and an economy by being green. We need a green technology revolution. We really do have an opportunity now to use technology and green engineering, you know and we really are in a good position to do that with manufacturing skills, plus human and natural resources that we’ve got to get the next energy transition. A contract to have lifelong learning post 16.
The importance of lifelong learning should start in primary schools giving kids pathways into new and creative opportunities.
SW: How would this be beneficial?
SB: It’ll get us better quality jobs here in South Yorkshire and the more you earn the more you learn the more you earn. Everyone pays more tax, due to higher earnings, we get a society we want and the whole of the UK wins. That’s what I want overall. For everyone to win.
SW: Ok, so I guess the last question is what makes you stand out from the crowd?
SB: Well first off, I am not a politician and I have no intention of being perceived as one. I am a doer. I don’t just say things and not do them. Deeds not words is my mantra.
The second thing is that I’m not getting paid for it. I want to donate my salary to The Samaritans to help those in desperate need. My mum was a Samaritan worker for 30 years and I know that she saved many lives.
I have had enough of politicians for the way that they look after themselves and their friends only rather than the people they are meant to serve.
I don’t need the money. I have enough. They don’t.
The results for a new mayor will be announced this Friday. Polls will open in person on Thursday.