Ros Jones, Mayor of Doncaster (UK), since 2013 and recipient of the 2018 World Mayor Commendation
Doncaster Mayor Ros Jones
replies to questions from
a local and national audience

12 February 2019: World Mayor invited participants from the 2018 Project to put questions to Doncaster Mayor Ros Jones, winner of the 2018 World Mayor Commendation for services to local government and dedication to her community. From the questions received, a representative selection was forwarded to the mayor. She replies below with candour and thoughtfulness.



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QUESTIONS
By Moira B., Doncaster:
Question:
You are a successful and inspirational leader, eagerly promoting Doncaster far and wide. But given the low esteem that politicians have nationally and internationally, how would you encourage our young citizens and particularly women to come into the febrile world of politics?

Mayor Ros Jones replies: Thank you Moira for your question and the kind words.

You have touched on a really crucial issue here, and one which I am very passionate about. Our young citizens have the power and potential to make a real difference in society and in the world of politics, and I think we need their engagement, views and voices now more than ever before.

Thanks to technology, our young people have been nurtured to have a global perspective which transcends borders and enables communication across cultures and traditional divides. I think this is a crucial perspective that all political leaders and indeed all citizens will need in the future if we are to secure a truly sustainable and peaceful way of life for more people in our world, and in our local communities.

You are right - politics can be febrile, and people can sometimes express their frustration at their circumstances by focusing on political leaders and personalities – but I think that this should be a reason for young people to get involved, not one to put them off. That’s because politics is also engaging, interesting, exciting, often fulfilling and most of all completely vital for a flourishing democracy and society.

Of course, entering politics is one route for our young people to ‘be the change that they want to see’ but there are many other ways that they can also contribute to that – through education, business, science, culture, sports and citizenship and many more.

As Mayor of Doncaster my aim always is to lead by example, to be aspirational for the borough and its citizens and seek to bring about positive changes. Young citizens need to know and believe they can make a difference, and I often visit our schools, along with a colleague, answering whatever question they ask truthfully, and if I do not have the information at hand, I will seek out the answers and go back to them. I often tell them about my career path and that I entered local politics to bring about improvements to a place that I love and have lived in all my life. It is about listening to what they say and demonstrating that we can change things for the better. I am especially passionate about encouraging young women to think about careers which can be fulfilling but also life changing because they can play their part to help bring about real change.

I’m also proud that in Doncaster we are delivering many programmes that are designed to remove the barriers to participation that our young people can face. This includes a big focus on critical thinking, effective communication and debate that will give them the skills to participate in the political sphere or in other participation routes. We have a big focus on young people from traditionally under - represented groups, which is crucial.

As a final point, my advice always to young people is first and foremost to be present and to make a positive contribution in their own community – whether that is their neighbourhood, town or City, or in communities of interest if identity politics is what motivates and drives them. The crucial thing is to think about and be confident enough to articulate their position and ideas and to make sure their voice is out there! I’d also say that listening and being tolerant and thoughtful about the views of others, even when they are polarised from yours, is a crucial skill to develop in politics and in life in general.

I think the old adage ‘decisions get made by those who turn up’ still rings true – and I know that Doncaster’s young people will be there!


By Kevin O’D., Doncaster:
Question:
Out of 24 directly elected mayors in England, only four are women. Do women lack ambition or is there still a bias against women in Britain’s major political parties?

Mayor Ros Jones replies: Thanks for the question Kevin.

First of all, you’ll understand me saying that I definitely do not think women lack ambition – but for sure women do lack equal opportunities and a level playing field!

On the question of women’s ambition in politics and public administration – the historical evidence is clear – we are all about ambition!

In 2018, we celebrated 100 years of women being able to vote and stand for parliament and in that time, there has been huge progress in women’s rights, empowerment and participation in politics, Locally, I am proud to work with the formidable and talented Jo Miller as part of the first dual female Chief Executive-Mayor team in the country.

The issue is access to opportunity. It seems that in many cases there’s a higher bar for women to reach, and I have certainly experienced that in my own professional career. This is supported by a lot of evidence about parity of pay and rewards and about representation of women at senior levels, not just in politics but across business, education and the arts for example.

To be specific about politics, there are clearly structural factors holding women back. Less than a third of parliamentarians are women and only 17% of council leaders are women. Part of this is due to the lack of social diversity within politics – Members of Parliament are almost exclusively drawn from people already working in local and national politics (17.1%), business (30.7%) and the professions (31%). The profile at local government level is similar.

I’m pleased to say that the UK Labour Party, of which I am a Member, recognises these barriers and specifically encourages women into politics by designating some parliamentary seats to be contested on an all-female basis. As of 2017 the party had 119 female MPs, 45% of all Labour MPs, two of whom represent Doncaster.

In my role as Mayor of Doncaster, I have driven reforms to reduce the gender pay gap within the local public sector, which I am passionate about. I’m a big believer in changing what you can.

So I think we can move forward on this if we acknowledge that there are very real institutional barriers in many organisations that we have to strive to expose and remove, politics included. I think we have seen some progress in that recently – but there is a lot more to do.


By Paul R., Doncaster:
Question:
How do you believe that we can raise the expectations of Doncaster’s young people, particularly young girls, and inspire them to seek a career in a high skilled vocation and what measures need to be taken to encourage businesses to look at creating skilled apprenticeship opportunities?

Mayor Ros Jones replies: Thanks for the question Paul – this one is really close to my heart! It’s an issue where in Doncaster we are driving some really unique and exciting work, which recently won an award as one of 20 examples of global educational change!

You ask about raising expectations, and about the role of employers, both of which are crucial parts of our approach.

On raising expectations, our focus is on ensuring that every child has life-changing experiences within and beyond school, developing the skills required to progress within both work and education through a £2.75m Essential Life Skills programme, part of the Doncaster Social Mobility and Opportunity Area. In 2018, over 3,500 Doncaster children and young people took part over the 6 week summer programme with over 12,000 different engagements targeted at girls and young women aimed at building their confidence and ambition.

We are the first location in the UK to offer Big Picture Learning, a new model of education for those disengaged with traditional formal education. The new school has been funded through an innovative social investment model and will open in January 2019.

Especially close to my heart is our focus on ensuring that women can gain access to traditionally male dominated professions and careers. I am especially driven to get more women into engineering. We are starting at the early ages - supporting a Primary Engineers initiative, which promotes engineering as a career for all by reversing decades-old stereotypes and preconceptions about Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) learning through working collaboratively at primary level to promote the discipline. Our new University Technical College (UTC) will offer an environment within which all of Doncaster’s students, no matter what their gender, will be able pursue STEM learning.

On the role of employers, we are blessed in Doncaster with an amazing private sector and Chamber of Commerce - always positive about the potential of our young people.

We are ensuring that all young people in Doncaster have high quality encounters with employers. Through giving young people a real taste of working life, and businesses the confidence in our young people and their skills, we are giving them the aspiration to participate in the highly skilled, highly paid economy of the future.

We are demonstrating to them that apprenticeships work, through the work of the Skills Academy, which has supported 15 Doncaster secondary schools, over 18,500 students and worked with over 300 businesses. This has focussed on ensuring that pupils are 'work ready' and highlighting the variety of career opportunities available to them locally. This is one of the reasons why the number of apprenticeship starts by school leavers in Doncaster almost doubled from 4.9% in 2015 to 8.6% in 2017, with early indications showing another rise this year.

We are also opening up the higher education route for progression to highly skilled employment, as part of an ambitious cross-sectoral partnership to deliver a major expansion to Higher Education in Doncaster. We are working closely with business to ensure that this offer is effectively tailored to the needs of emerging sectors within the local, national and international economy.

Through all of this ambitious and exciting work, I hope our legacy is to ensure that our young people, including the daughters of Doncaster, know that there is no door they can’t walk through, nothing they can’t achieve, and no height they shouldn’t rise to.


By Mishka, P., Doncaster:
Question:
Will Doncaster benefit from the UK government’s plans for the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ or will the town further fall behind the likes of Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Sheffield?

Mayor Ros Jones replies: Thanks Mishka for your question, which raises a very valid concern - is the UK’s regional economic development and devolution approach too ‘City Centric’?

I’d like to start on a positive by saying that Doncaster now has one of the fastest growing economies in the country and we are really maximising our assets, our industrial specialisms and our real locational advantage. As Mayor I am committed to ensure that the benefits of this growth are shared in an equal and fair way – and that all Doncaster people and places feel that. So my point is that notwithstanding the relative success of Northern Cities, we have our own head of steam and we can continue to make much progress.

The aim of the Northern Powerhouse, established in 2014, is to address the imbalance between economies in the North and South, and in that respect we have to see it as a very necessary development. The gulf between the economies and opportunities for people between the UK’s North and South must be addressed, even more crucial as it is Northern Cities and towns that will be at greatest risk as we face more economic turbulence post - Brexit.

You rightly point out that there is a risk that the Northern Powerhouse approach may not deliver for towns like Doncaster but I feel positive that we have a track record of getting a lot from devolved powers and funding. For example, we have secured funds and support to deliver key infrastructure projects such as Great Yorkshire Way which led to new developments and growth at Doncaster Sheffield Airport as well as along the route like iPort; a strategic rail freight interchange delivering more than six million square foot of Grade A logistics warehousing. 

In keeping with the Northern Powerhouse Strategy, I’m keen to see more of the North’s towns, cities and counties joined together to deliver a significantly better improvement in our economy, for example through Northern Powerhouse East – West rail links, where Doncaster will clearly have a key interest.

To this end I have been a strong advocate for ‘One Yorkshire’ devolution. I am one of the country’s only council leaders to place local devolution options to a local vote and the response from our community was clear: we want a One Yorkshire deal. In fact, 85% of people who voted in that poll (38,551) supported the proposals to devolve power to the whole of Yorkshire. Only at the Yorkshire level, including key cities like Sheffield and Leeds, can real meaningful devolution take place that will allow places like Doncaster to continue to invest in its strong asset base and make a positive contribution to the Northern Powerhouse – and addressing the concern about the limitations of a focus on Cities.

As a final point, I think we should also acknowledge that the Northern Powerhouse brief is focused very strongly on infrastructure and place, and that we need a counter balance to this focused on people. We have acted on this and I am really proud that we launched the ‘People’s Powerhouse’ at an inaugural conference in Doncaster in 2017. This is a now movement growing in influence across the North, focused on ensuring that the voice and needs of people are taken account of in the Northern Powerhouse.


By Michael H., Liverpool, UK:
Question:
How does Doncaster market itself nationally and internationally? How do you convince potential investors that the Town is ‘the place to be’?

Mayor Ros Jones replies: Thanks for the question Michael, which recognises the challenge of how a place can attract investment. This is crucial to our growth and ability to secure opportunities for local people.

The reality is we have to tailor our approach to different types of investors and work at local, national and international levels, which means we have to be very flexible and fleet of foot!

Attracting investment is very much a team effort. We work through a combined approach, including the Council’s Development and Business Doncaster teams, the award-winning Doncaster Chamber of Commerce and a vast array of partners in the private and public sector, selling the place and its benefits. Through this, Doncaster has seen record levels of investment over the last couple of years. The number of commercial enquiries from parties looking at Doncaster is rising and investment levels are at record levels. We are constantly looking at ways to market ourselves to bring in further and higher quality investments.

We find the best way of convincing investors that our town is ‘the place to be’ is by persuading them to visit Doncaster. This allows us to explain what Doncaster is all about and they can see for themselves the developments taking place – ‘seeing is believing’. As a borough, Team Doncaster markets Doncaster as very much ‘open for business’ and we roll out the red carpet to visiting investors.

We run a familiarisation programme every month to large groups of potential investors. This has proved to be very successful and is something which keeps us ahead of other areas. We also have to have a strong product offer to show potential investors. We also work very closely with developers, both commercial and residential, to have the right infrastructure in place and site offers that companies want. This close partnership working is yielding benefits, including:

• A £45m investment by 360 Media at High Melton to create a film, television and technology hub that combines conventional studio stages with a hi-tech hub and Film and TV Academy. This has generated partnership with local colleges to help increase local skills and job opportunities across the Creative & Digital sector. It will also be the catalyst for increased GVA from supply chain firms across the region.
• A market-leading logistics site at Doncaster iPort, which has 337 acres available and has established blue chip companies such as Amazon.
• Mypensionexpert.com moving to a town centre location, a great start towards achieving our strategic goal changing the business ratio to attract more office based companies into the town centre, which currently has a very high retail mix.
• Significant increases in visitor numbers to Doncaster over the past 4 years. The Yorkshire Wildlife Park alone attracts over 750,000 visitors each year and a £50m expansion is planned that will create 300 jobs and bring in new animals.

At an international level, we have a close working relationship with the Department for International Trade, who have the UK responsibility for promoting Doncaster overseas. Through this relationship Doncaster has seen a number of high level enquiries.

Doncaster has also been chosen as a UK pilot area to prioritise investment from the rail industry. We also work very closely with the Sheffield City Region Investment team who go overseas to promote the region at trade shows and international conferences and Doncaster is at the forefront of this promotion due to the quality of land and sites we have available. Along with the Sheffield city region we have an annual Doncaster presence at MIPIM, the international property event that takes place in Cannes, France each March, and we use this to promote Doncaster to the international development community.

At a national level we are increasingly promoting Doncaster through the route of networking, with many of our partners acting as key advocates for Doncaster as a place to live, work, visit and invest. We find this method of promotion is more cost effective than costly adverts in brochures and national advertising campaigns.

We have also embraced modern technology and we are using new forms of media effectively to get the Doncaster message across, working with partners across all sectors (including arts, heritage, tourism and culture). During 2018 Business Doncaster was one of the first investment agencies across the UK to launch a digital marketing campaign, specifically aimed at promoting companies in certain business sectors including aviation, manufacturing and business services. Throughout 2018 we have produced a new suite of investment literature which will be used to promote the Doncaster message as we become even more proactive in selling Doncaster.

At the heart of this we want developers and investors to see Doncaster as one of the best places to invest in the country, and we firmly believe that we are making strong progress in making this happen.

So, as I said, there’s a lot involved in attracting investment – they say money never sleeps!


By Bill P., Doncaster:
Question:
What, if any, are your plans to tackle the ever increasing number of empty commercial premises in Doncaster (retail in particular)?

Mayor Ros Jones replies: Thanks Bill for your question. It’s on a subject that I’ve spent a lot of time on this year.

I know you’ll be aware many UK towns and cities are also dealing with this question of how we breathe new life into our town centres and high streets which have been affected by the growth of out of town retail, on line shopping, and economic uncertainty.

Our basic approach to this is that we have to be bold and completely re-imagine the role that our town centres play in the Borough’s future – and we are well on with this work, as I’ll explain here.

In terms of retail premises, Doncaster has suffered like many other towns and cities across the UK. Conditions for retailers are changing, with more online purchases reducing the need for a physical retail presence. However, as an example, Doncaster town centre’s void rate (20%) is still lower than comparable cities. Our capacity for action is also hampered by the fact that Doncaster has a large footprint of retail properties which are predominantly private sector owned. The Council owns very little retail stock in the town centre which means we cannot control the rents being asked for these premises and the businesses who occupy them. Business rates are set by central government.

However, we are working proactively within this context to combat some of these difficulties and reduce the number of empty retail units. We are working in partnership to implement a new Town Centre Masterplan, and investing in new infrastructure which will make the town centre a more attractive location for businesses to invest.

Doncaster Council is prudentially investing in empty retail units to allow us to offer attractive rents and an exciting new retail offer. New infrastructure projects are already taking place with improvements to the station forecourt, the wool market, corn exchange, market square, Hallgate/Silver Street and Waterdale are already underway and will be completed in the next couple of years. We have a retail plan in place which will allow us to buy up empty properties and zone the town centre retail with Scot Lane/Priory Walk areas becoming a fashionable independent quarter and the market square becoming the hub of retail/leisure activity with an extended wool market retail and food offer and evening entertainment.

In 2019 we are also launching a shopfront improvement scheme which will allow owners to improve the look of buildings in order to attract new tenants. This is paying dividends, as we have seen a number of new retail and leisure outlets opening in Doncaster during 2018.

Crucial to addressing the retail vacancy rates in the town centre is ensuring that the area is one within which people want to work, visit and spend time. This is why we are making a significant capital investment in our cultural infrastructure. This includes a brand new £14m Culture and Learning Centre, due to open in 2020, which will be home to Doncaster’s central library, art gallery and museum space. Within this landmark development, we are also providing some much-needed space for creative start-up businesses (and reviewing the town centre culture estate for further such space). We must capitalise on our rich historic environment and its potential for generating growth, and through our £2m Quality Streets project, we are investing in the town’s public realm and the setting of our heritage assets. We see heritage-led regeneration and developing a varied mixed-use retail, leisure and residential environment as being absolutely central to transforming the potential of the Town Centre.

The opening of the 154-bed Hilton Garden Inn Hotel overlooking the Racecourse has been a real vote of confidence for Doncaster in this regard. I see culture, heritage and a strong visitor offer as being vital to our plans to regenerate the town and the positive market response to our plans is a strong indication that we are on the right track.

Because retail is shrinking we are also working on alternative uses for existing town centre buildings and looking at new office builds around the station and Waterdale areas, which will increase footfall in the town centre. We are also encouraging the conversion of empty town centre buildings into quality residential accommodation, particularly upper floors which will allow people to live and work in the town centre.

So, you are right to raise this big challenge, but I hope you can see that we have a big vision and plan to tackle this issue, and we are well along the road to delivering some really big improvements for Doncaster people and businesses. I can’t wait to see it all completed!


By Lucas B., London, UK:
Question:
In the 2016 referendum, Doncaster voted for Brexit. Now, two and a half years later, how prepared is your administration for any repercussions that may arise from Britain leaving the EU?

Mayor Ros Jones replies: Thanks for the question Lucas – Brexit is a big talking point for us all in the UK right now of course.

You are right to point out that Doncaster was an area which had amongst the highest leave votes in the UK, at almost 69% of all those who voted, which was in turn just over 69% of those eligible to vote.

In terms of our preparation and response to Brexit, like most Local Authorities we are well advanced with our work with partners to assess the implications and development of plans to manage the impacts and risks that may be involved.

You’ll understand that this planning has operated in something of a vacuum – the eventual outcome has not been clear at all, and there are some factors which we have a degree of control and influence over and some that we do not.

We are clear though that the implications of Brexit on Doncaster’s residents are hugely significant and will need to be managed with great care and flexibility. Our planning has had to consider both a soft and hard ‘no deal’ Brexit – very different scenarios. I’ll pick out a few key elements of the issues we are working on to illustrate.

Access to funds: We are concerned about the fact that the Council and a number of partners from across Team Doncaster are currently in receipt of European funding. The Government has confirmed that it will underwrite the UK’s allocation for the European Structural and Investment Fund (ESIF) to 2020 and to consult on the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (SPF), a practical successor to ESIF, this year. My team has already responded to an All Party Parliamentary Group consultation on the SPF and will continue to influence Government Policy through the devolution agenda and national conferences and associations.

The local economy and businesses:
The health of Doncaster’s economy (jobs, growth and trade) is dependent on whether local business is able to plan investment based on a new trading relationship with the EU. All businesses are seeking a resolution to the UK’s trading position. Once this is available, Team Doncaster will be able to determine its priorities for a new working partnership with the private sector. If terms for Brexit are not resolved shortly, businesses warn they lack the ability to plan cash flow, secure business loans and undertake recruitment. The ability to support local companies to overcome these potential challenges will be crucial to sustaining Doncaster’s growth and partners from the Doncaster Chamber of Commerce to our small businesses will all be working collaboratively to plan ahead for these.

Free movement of EU workers will cease and it is highly likely that the UK's immigration regime will change following Brexit. This may leave the local economy at risk of skills shortages. The Government have recently introduced a toolkit to help employers and their EU workers understand and apply for UK settlement as Brexit approaches. We are working collaboratively in order to ensure that our long term plans for a flexible, highly skilled labour market and a health system which meets the needs of our local residents are not compromised substantially by changes wrought by Brexit. Locally, a working group of Chief Executives, leads on resilience, have been asked to consider Brexit resilience and local/regional action needed in a ‘worst case scenario’.

Health services: There are significant health implications from Brexit, some of which have been well publicised – like stocks of medicines. National Health organisations are leading on much of the risk mitigation. The potential local impacts are being managed though the Local Health Resilience Partnership together with the local authority co-ordinating information and resources.

So we are doing all we can in a pretty uncertain situation to ensure we can scope and manage the risks involved in Brexit and we need to respond to the eventual outcome to ensure we protect and support the interests of Doncaster businesses and people.


By Bill P., Doncaster:
Question:
Despite the UK Government announcing that austerity is over, Councils in England are still facing cuts to their budgets for the foreseeable future, which is having a massive impact on the town. What steps are we going to take, as a Council, to reduce the burden on people (who have struggled enough). Are there any internal savings that can be made?

Mayor Ros Jones replies:
Thanks for the question Bill – you’ve got right to the heart of what all Mayors, Council and public service leaders are most concerned with right now – a massive issue.
 
Doncaster has suffered significant financial challenges over the past decade, broadly equating to £101m over that period. In context we have a gross revenue budget in 2018-19 of £415m so that’s been quite a challenge to deliver. My focus is on delivering value for money and to maintain front line services wherever possible. So to this end we’ve already made significant internal changes, transformed services where possible and made tough decisions about service priorities, including £4.5m savings on assets and £4m savings on customer services.

Unfortunately austerity isn’t over. I only wish it was. Local Government funding through the revenue support grant will have been cut by over 60% by 2020, thus proving that austerity is not over for Local Government.

We will shortly be planning for our budgets over the next two years which shows we still have considerable savings to make. Consequently we will continue to examine other service changes and funding opportunities to try and minimise the impact of these cuts in funding that have been placed upon us. In other words, we’ll be doing all we can to reduce the impact on local residents and try as best we can to maintain services for Doncaster residents.

Let’s use the example of social care, where Doncaster is in a similar position to many other councils with social care responsibilities, with increasing need for these services and revenue spending decreasing. The Local Government Association estimate that adult social care face a £3.5 billion funding gap by 2025 just to maintain existing standards of care – a massive challenge which plays out locally for us.

So we have to continue to make savings by delivering services differently, as we have done over a number of years, a good example of …… most of our libraries have become much more than libraries and are now social meeting places staffed by volunteers and deliver services in partnership with other agencies.

We have also spread the cost of debt charges over a greater number of years and we are investing capital monies that will earn us revenue income and business rates to help support our vital services.

All these measures mean that we can keep Council Tax as low as possible and still deliver vital services for those that are most in need – it’s a major challenge, but one we realise has a massive impact on quality of life for Doncaster people, so limiting the impact on them is always a key objective for us.


By Charlotte K., born in Doncaster, now London, UK:
Question:
Which are the achievements you are most proud of since becoming Mayor of Doncaster and where do you think you could have done better?

Mayor Ros Jones replies: There are many achievements that I am immensely proud of, starting with my pride in being mayor of Doncaster in the first place! I do want to say though that any achievements are not down to me alone, it has been a real ‘Team Doncaster’ effort to get to the stage we are at now, with more still to do. I’ll highlight a few that mean a lot to me, but there are many more.

My first concern is always for Doncaster people, and especially our most vulnerable, so I have been very proud that Doncaster’s children’s social care services have improved so much in the last few years. This has been a big team effort with obvious importance, so that’s excellent news.

I was so proud to be part of the team that secured the agreement to base the National College for High Speed Rail in Doncaster. This is now open and helping our rail industries to deliver the engineers greatly needed currently and for the future. This has also encouraged other rail related companies to re-locate to Doncaster. It has really helped revive the heritage that rail has played in Doncaster’s past and the enormous part it will play in our future – brilliant!

Doncaster has been successful in being awarded a University Technical College. This is part of our ambitious plans to transform education across the borough and will give 13-18 year olds from across the borough the opportunity to learn STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects and gain the advanced engineering and digital design skills and qualifications needed for a 21st century workforce. This is a big passion for me, connecting our young people to quality opportunities – including a focus on encouraging young women into engineering, so I’m really proud of that.

The Great Yorkshire Way is an achievement that I am immensely proud of. This public and private sector led project is one of the region’s most successful regeneration projects, investing in infrastructure in order to grow and transform the economy so that it works for the many not the few. This road has opened up vast amounts of land for development, as well as improving access and travel times to Doncaster Sheffield Airport, which has already seen increased seats and routes, making Doncaster a real gateway to Yorkshire and the world.

On the question of what could have gone better, I do spend time reflecting on progress and there are always things I want to go faster, smoother and better. However to be honest we have achieved so much in very difficult circumstances, with ever restricted resources, it’s hard to be disappointed about things, so best to look at the positives on our journey and continue striving for improvements.


By Maureen P., Hull:
Question: What do you envisage Doncaster to be like in 2040?

Mayor Ros Jones replies:
Thanks for the question Maureen – wow, that feels like a long way off, but let me take a run at it!

Our vision for the future of Doncaster is to deliver economic growth that genuinely delivers for all of Doncaster’s people and places, so by 2040 I’d like to see that this has really made a difference to quality of life across Doncaster.

I envisage Doncaster to be:
• A place with high levels of highly paid, highly skilled employment.
• A place where new manufacturing and engineering businesses provide high quality, high paid sustainable jobs.
• The centre of the UK rail industry.
• Doncaster being the new centre of the entertainment and creative industries following on from developments at High Melton.
• A borough with an international airport providing long haul routes to business destinations across the world and an international cargo hub.
• A place with a revamped town centre where people want to live, work and play with a quality business services offer and high quality residential accommodation.
• A place that people want to visit for weekends and to attend major international events.
• The most child-friendly borough in the country, with no family or community left behind.
• A borough with a transport system that is safe, reliable, clean, green, affordable and one of the best in Europe. Where people in all communities find it easy to use different modes of transport to access work, leisure and to improve their health.
• The major conference location in the north of England.

• A University City, where Higher and Further education opportunities are available to all in our local society and where young people can study closer to where they live, reducing the cost of borrowing for Higher Education.

I want Doncaster to be a place that is open, diverse and inclusive, a place where everyone has a part to play in recognising and valuing the benefits of a diverse and inclusive community and in seeking to improve the quality of life, creating a sense of belonging that leads to groups and individuals feeling respected and valued.

I’m sure that between now and 2040 several other people will have held the baton as Mayor of Doncaster. I hope they are as proud and ambitious as I have been in my time as Mayor – how could they not be!


By David N., Doncaster:
Question:
Your life is so wrapped up around doing the best for Doncaster and for ensuring Doncaster punches above its weight. How do you keep yourself fit and healthy whilst shouldering such a burden?

Mayor Ros Jones replies:
Thank you David for the comments and the question. I’m glad you think we punch above our weight – I think so too!

I feel very humbled and privileged to be the Mayor of Doncaster and I really don’t see this as a burden at all – but I do know what you mean – it’s hard work and a lot of responsibility!

I try to walk a couple of miles a day prior to leaving for the office and I also jog/walk for longer periods at weekends, time permitting. My family are very supportive of what I do, and my granddaughter keeps me on my toes!

Seriously though, keeping space for personal time and family is important though, and I do believe in endeavouring to keep healthy and well, which is advice I would pass on to anyone.