Doncaster Chamber Chief Exec Dan Fell says he’s dismayed that the city’s been passed over for this opportunity to be the HQ for Great British Rail, considering that it met every piece of criteria outlined by the government.
He said: “For over a century, rail has always been an inseparable part of our DNA. The iconic Mallard and Flying Scotsmen locomotives were built right on our very doorstep and today many key suppliers within the rail industry are based here in South Yorkshire.
“Not to mention, our region has got its act together when it comes to creating a skilled pipeline of future rail industry workers, thanks to specialist education providers like Doncaster University Technical College.
“For these reasons and many more, I believe that we were the clear right choice to host GBR. I lament the fact that government did not recognise this but also lament the fact that, as a region, we perhaps did not do quite enough to present an unassailable case to them.
“It would be easy to blame this decision on politics and that will, no doubt, have been a factor. However, local and regional partners — inclusive of the Chamber — also need to look themselves in the mirror and ask what we might have done better. Too many things are not going Doncaster and South Yorkshire’s way at present, and we need to forensically understand why that is.
“That said, our region did fight hard for this and put significant resources into the campaign. It is a shame that — in common with previous government-instigated competitions, such as Free Ports — that this effort has been largely abortive. We can only hope that, in the future, the government will not continue to leave its important decision-making up to resource-sapping competitions like this.
“While we may have missed out on this particular bid, it is important to remember that there are still other exciting opportunities on the horizon that we must seize. Looking ahead to the future, we will be campaigning for the establishment of a second UTC in Doncaster, after the first was such a resounding success, lobbying for a new hospital, and looking for other ways to drive growth in our region.
“Not to mention, it is imperative that we persist in the ongoing fight for Doncaster Sheffield Airport. If the government is truly serious about its commitment to levelling up, then backing these key projects would be a good way to compensate for overlooking South Yorkshire today.”