Skip to main content
A Magazine for

Now Then survey reveals policy differences in race for next South Yorkshire Mayor

We asked candidates questions on electric buses, biodiversity loss and what powers they'd like to get from the government.

City centre park hill trams supertram

All candidates indicated that they would prioritise transport in South Yorkshire.

Rachel Rae Photography

Read the candidates' answers in full.


A Now Then survey of candidates has revealed several differences on policy ahead of elections for the next Mayor of South Yorkshire on 5 May.

Our full survey included questions sent in by our readers and local campaigns including ACORN, Extinction Rebellion and Better Buses for South Yorkshire. We received responses from Labour's Oliver Coppard, Joe Otten of the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party's Bex Whyman and Simon Biltcliffe of the Yorkshire Party.

Conservative candidate Clive Watkinson did not respond to our questions after numerous requests.

The survey has revealed differences over proposals for a Workplace Parking Levy (WPL), which would see large employers charged for each parking space they have in Sheffield city centre, with the revenue invested in public transport.

Coppard said he would "consider anything that will help us make the transition to better public transport and active travel", whereas Otten ruled out the idea, saying extra taxes on local businesses would "drive jobs elsewhere".

Whyman backed a WPL, saying that the Greens had "repeatedly proposed this on Sheffield City Council but have been blocked by Labour."

We also asked what additional powers each candidate would like the mayor's office to receive.

Biltcliffe called for a Yorkshire Parliament, arguing that "regional decision-making works better for regional people," while Whyman said she would like powers to introduce rent controls for private tenants and new protections against evictions.

Coppard said he would like more powers over post-16 education and long-term housing budgets, whereas Otten said Manchester's powers over health and social care would be a "huge prize" for South Yorkshire.

On the climate crisis, Coppard said he would set up a citizens' assembly to guide future plans to reach net-zero, whereas Biltcliffe said we need to "bite the bullet and look at a carbon tax as a way of rebalancing the economy."

Whyman called for "an immediate moratorium on funding for all new road building, road widening and airport expansion projects", with the money from cancelled projects diverted towards active travel and public transport.

Coppard, Otten and Whyman all said they would start work to bring the region's buses back under public control, whereas Biltcliffe said he would need to look at the findings of the recent South Yorkshire Bus Review more closely.

On the gender and ethnicity pay gap, all candidates said they would work towards boosting equal pay in the region, with Coppard promising to "challenge those businesses that fail to pay people based on their work, not their gender."

Owlthorpe fields

Every candidate said they wanted to protect greenfield sites like Owlthorpe Fields.

Stephen Lister

Every candidate said they wanted to see more electric buses. Sheffield is the biggest city in England without a single zero-emission bus.

Otten pointed out that Sheffield's Clean Air Zone could cause bus companies to move the most polluting vehicles in their fleet to other parts of South Yorkshire, adding that the mayor "must not allow this sort of knock-on effect from their policies."

Voters across South Yorkshire will choose who will succeed Dan Jarvis as Mayor of South Yorkshire on 5 May. The election uses a supplementary voting system, meaning that every voter can choose a first and second preference candidate.

If no candidate receives over 50% of first preference votes, the lowest place candidate is eliminated and their voters' second preference votes are added in. This process continues until a candidate has over 50%.

More Democracy & Activism

Trade unions: a complicated story

Trade unions are often accused of being anti-environmental, anti-democratic and out of touch. Ben Manovitch looks at what the future of organising needs to look like.

More Democracy & Activism