Supporting new opportunities for people and businesses across Penistone and Stocksbridge
Since my election to Parliament just over a year ago, I've taken steps to support the development of new opportunities for people and businesses across Penistone and Stocksbridge. But without good transport systems its much harder for local businesses and people to be able to access the things they need to support the economic prosperity and social wellbeing they deserve.
Good transport isn't just about getting from A to B – it’s about connecting people with well-paid jobs, training and education, hospital appointments, shops and other people, and it’s central to the development and sustainability of our local communities and the opportunities available to the people in them.
Our region has a huge amount to offer but our transport systems are letting us down, and there is plenty of evidence to show that places with poor transport connections find it harder to reach their social and economic potential. The transport challenges that we face locally aren’t straightforward but are as varied as might be expected from a constituency with our geographic and social diversity.
- In our villages the absence of reliable rural transport leaves people cut off from their work and social life
- In our towns we suffer from poor local bus connections that forces people into their cars
- In our commuter areas the lack of a reliable and efficient rail service makes public transport an impossible choice
We can change this by working to bring about a reliable, efficient, and integrated public transport system. But too often our thinking is limited to cars, to buses, and to trains. But a comprehensive and integrated transport system necessarily incorporates walking, cycling, trams, and multi-modal interchanges too.
A journey shouldn’t begin when you step onto the bus, but begin when you step out of your front door.
Whilst I support big-ticket infrastructure projects such as HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail believing they will bring new opportunities to our major cities, to make them work for our communities we have to ensure that they're integrated into our regional and local public transport networks. That’s one reason why I’m campaigning to restore passenger services on the Stocksbridge to Sheffield freight line, and for upgrades to the Penistone Line. These local commuter lines will feed into the regional and national rail network and connect our communities to destinations across the country.
The launch of the trial 26 bus service connecting the villages of Oxspring, Thurgoland, Wortley and Crane Moor with Penistone and Stocksbridge was a significant moment for local people, some of whom I’ve been working on the project with for nearly two years. The service connects small communities with local transport hubs helping build a more integrated, passenger-focused transport network. This community-led model for sustainable rural bus services has the potential to transform the way we deliver reliable and affordable public transport not just here but across the country.
But good transport systems include routes that encourage and enable walking and cycling, active travel route, which is why I'm supporting efforts to improve the development and improvement of new routes across Sheffield and Barnsley. Work is already underway on a cycle route between Silkstone and Barnsley, and the Stocksbridge Town Deal Board, that I co-chair, has included a dedicated active travel route on the Upper Don Trail in its recently submitted bid.
Improving transport connectivity is an essential part of our being able to level-up our region and is central to our future growth, and our economic recovery from the challenges brought about by the pandemic.
Only by developing an integrated transport network will we bring new jobs to our left behind communities, enable our young people to access education and training opportunities, improve access to public services and shops, and bring together families and friends who have been forced to spend so long apart.