The sending out of ballots to Labour members to vote for their preferred Sheffield City Region Mayor candidate has been delayed amid a row over the decision not to shortlist former Minister Richard Caborn for the role.
Mr Caborn, a former Sheffield MP and Sports Minister, says he was “surprised and disappointed” to be told last week that he had not been shortlisted, with Barnsley MP Dan Jarvis and Sheffield city councillor Ben Curran preferred by Labour officials.
Former British Army Major Mr Jarvis yesterday published his proposed policy agenda, which includes proposals to bring bus provision back into public ownership and supporting the appointment of a female Deputy Mayor.
Ballot papers were supposed to be sent out today so that Labour members in South Yorkshire could choose their preferred candidate, with a decision due next month ahead of the election in May.
But this will not now happen until Monday after Labour officials were challenged over the shortlisting process. A spokesman said: “While there is a legal consideration of this situation ongoing, we are not able to comment.”
In a statement published yesterday, Mr Caborn said the distribution of ballot papers had been delayed “in response to concerns raised over the shortlisting process for the party’s selection of a candidate for City Region Mayor”.
A number of fellow Labour Party members have agreed and since sought to challenge this decision, raising concerns that it was unfair and undemocratic.Richard Caborn
He said: “As stated, I was surprised and disappointed at the Yorkshire Regional Labour Party’s decision to deprive South Yorkshire Labour Party members from having their say on whether I could represent them as the Labour candidate for this important position.
“A number of fellow Labour Party members have agreed and since sought to challenge this decision, raising concerns that it was unfair and undemocratic.
“I shall not be pursuing this matter legally, as I do not wish to bring the party into further disrepute. However, I will be pushing this matter through the political channels open to me, to ensure a fair and democratic process for future party members.”
“I would like to thank people for all their kind words and support throughout this time.”
Earlier today, Dan Jarvis published details of his policy plans in areas such as creating a 21st Century workforce, improving housing and the environment and fighting poverty and inequality.
Mr Jarvis said that as well as campaigning for a wider Yorkshire devolution deal, his priorities would be to negotiate with the Government to get the Sheffield City Region the best possible deal in terms of powers and funding.
He said he would focus on attracting new investment and well-paid jobs to South Yorkshire and ensuring people in the county have the skills and training to do them.
And he said he would establish a Mayor’s Community Fund, which will include the entirety of his mayoral salary, to back a series of region-wide initiatives.
Mr Jarvis said: “I am convinced that with the right powers, strategy and investment, the Sheffield City Region can harness the enormous potential which exists in our region and we can truly become a force to be reckoned with.
“To do this, our first mayor must have the right policies, as well as the right personality, and this is why I have put together a policy proposal that not only puts people at its heart but shows what democratic socialist principles and a more co-operative community can deliver.”
“This document is intended to give all Labour party members across South Yorkshire a clear idea of what I would do if I were elected mayor, and also asks them to help me develop a policy agenda that best helps the working people of Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley and Doncaster.”