On Saturday I attended a march at Edlington to recognise the 30th anniversary of the miner’s strike.
Being the daughter of a miner who was born and raised in Doncaster, and as someone who lived in the town during the strike, it was a poignant reminder of those years.
In 1980 there were 211 working collieries in the UK employing 230,000 people. Doncaster was a town heavily reliant on the coal industry, not just to provide colliery jobs but to underpin our whole community, from greengrocers to newsagents and hairdressers to publicans.
By 1995 just 15,000 of those jobs remained thanks to the policies of Mrs Thatcher and her government. Even now, some communities have not fully recovered from the hardship and unemployment caused by this rapid decline.
Last week UK Coal proposed closing Kellingley and Thoresby, which would leave Hatfield Colliery as the last remaining deep mine in the country. The government could still pursue a future in clean coal, but it doesn’t look likely so we must also focus our attention elsewhere.
As mayor, I am clear that it is part of my role to bring new jobs and economic growth to Doncaster.
Today Doncaster’s economy is worth £4 billion. In truth though, we still have some catching up to do nationally. We need more jobs at all levels, particularly skilled jobs that pay good wages.
That is why the news that the bid for a new enterprise zone at the airport had been successful is great news. You may have seen it reported in the Free Press and it could bring 4,000 new jobs for Doncaster.
I’m also well on track with my promise to create new apprenticeships with almost 250 created in less than a year.
As with most of Doncaster’s history, our successes have been based on our location.
From Romans, to railways, racing and mining, it’s always been “location, location, location”.
This will be vital to our future and I want to see a real expansion in our logistics sector, providing an engine room for the distribution of goods and products around the UK. Our new airport link road and iPort development at Rossington provides one example of how we can achieve this.
Our rail, manufacturing and horseracing industries are also strong and can have a bright future, but we can’t sit back and wait for the phone to ring.
That is why under my leadership “delivery” will be the key word. It’s time for us to go out and grab success.