IT is to the credit of Dan Jarvis, the newly-elected mayor of Sheffield City Region, that he is held in such high esteem by his opponents. Not many command the level of respect, or public mandate, that the former paratrooper, and serving MP for Barnsley Central, has received.
No stranger to challenges – whether they be military, political or personal – the significance of Mr Jarvis’s election will, in all likelihood, extend beyond South Yorkshire where he now has responsibility for a range of new policy-making powers.
After all, Mr Jarvis is at the forefront of the One Yorkshire campaign that is pressing for a countywide devolution deal by 2020 to enable the whole region to pull together, and harness its expertise, in order to accelerate a new era of growth and prosperity.
Indeed, Mr Jarvis made no secret of his desire to do away with the newly-formed Sheffield City Region mayoralty when he secured, after some procedural prevarication, the Labour nomination. He was also very candid about his intentions during the election campaign.
Yet, having been elected on this basis, and emphatically so, the outcome needs to be respected by Sheffield and Rotherham Councils, the two town halls that have been putting up the greatest resistance to devolution.
Political self-interest has stood in the way of the greater good for too long. Yorkshire already finds itself lagging behind rival regions – and it certainly cannot afford to lose any further ground as the Government continues to favour those areas that have embraced self-governance.
As Mr Jarvis looks to bridge the differences that exist between neighbouring boroughs in the south of the county, and also those that remain between South Yorkshire and the West, North, and East Ridings, all political, business and civic leaders would be advised to follow his pragmatism and positivity. He, and others, have advanced this agenda significantly in recent months.
Furthermore, this needs to be reciprocated by James Brokenshire, the new Communities Secretary. A former Northern Ireland Secretary, he will know, more than most, the importance of being open-minded and that the best outcome is still a deal driven by the most important individuals of all – the Yorkshire people.