Agenda item

Public Questions


3 questions from members of the public were submitted to this meeting:


1.    “The Mayor has made it clear that he wants SYMCA to operate in an open and democratic way. Why is the SYMCA Transport and Environment Board not open to the public to attend?"


A response was given that the Board would consider at this meeting the outcomes of the MCA Review, which included a proposal that all thematic boards, including the Transport and Environment, would cease operating. This was due in part to a perception that Thematic Boards lacked openness and transparency.


He stated his commitment to embedding further accountability and transparency into the MCA’s work.


  1. [with regard to item 11. MCA Review…] “The governance model proposals buy-in to “strong leader” thinking including individual (“Cabinet-type”) decision-making roles and powers.  (At the same time more powers are gradually being accrued and sought by the Mayor and MCA.)  This direction of travel should normally be accompanied - as long established in both related statute and all good practice guidance - by, at the very least, a strong and renewed commitment with practical actions on strengthening scrutiny arrangements, practices and impact.  What can be done to rectify this shortcoming in the proposals on the table?


Beyond this minimal democratic requirement to strengthen scrutiny arrangements, what of the more extensive democratic governance agendas and concerns that mobilised large numbers of citizens and communities in Sheffield (the biggest of their kind in the country)?  It appears none of the small, rather 'elite' group selected for Review participation championed these issues, or saw their relevance and important contribution, for Review purposes? 


From my involvement in the Sheffield citizen-led actions on improving governance (and also beyond this in the region and nationally), will the Mayor find an hour before the August break to meet with me to discuss why integrating and deepening democratic governance arrangements in the MCA is so important for enhancing its work and purposes”


A response was given that the proposed new governance model differs from a typical Local Government Cabinet model in that, while portfolio leads would be allocated to MCA Board members, decision-making would remain with the MCA Board. 


The Mayor noted that the MCA was working to strengthen scrutiny in line with the new Devolved Bodies Accountability Framework. 


The Mayor also noted efforts to widen citizen participation through initiatives like a Citizens Assembly on the Climate at a South Yorkshire-wide level.


3.    The Equality Act 2010 says that companies that provide public transport services, such as buses, trains, the underground and taxis cannot discriminate against Disabled people and requires them to take steps to make their services accessible for Disabled people.


In transport planning, accessibility refers to a measure of the ease of reaching (and interacting with) destinations or activities distributed in space, e.g. around a city


As an able bodied person I have difficulty reaching my destination as there is no information on the bus, neither visual nor auditory to enable me to know if I am about to reach my destination


What steps is the SYMCA taking to ensure buses have both auditory and visual information available to passengers in the form of a destination display and sound system?


When does SYMCA believe that this will be in place for passengers?”


A response was given that the Department for Transport had introduced legislation in March 2023 requiring that all buses provide Audio Visual (AV) information for passengers by October 2026.


It was noted that the South Yorkshire bus fleet is wholly owned and operated by private operators, but that the MCA would work with operators through the Enhanced Partnership to ensure they meet this requirement and where possible introduce changes ahead of this deadline. It was further noted that the MCA had funded the retrofit of 37 buses with AV technology and in the past year agreed to fund a new, fully electric bus fleet of 23 vehicles which will have AV equipment as a default.


The MCA is also developing a South Yorkshire public transport app which will assist with real time journey planning for passengers when launched later this year.