Tony Blair’s sports minister enters race for Sheffield mayor as deadline looms

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Former sports minister Richard Caborn has entered the race to be Labour’s candidate for mayor of South Yorkshire.

The anti-apartheid campaigner and ex-MP said he would fight the “shocking disparity” in transport spending between London and the Sheffield city region.

Caborn, who was born in the steel city, declared just hours before today’s 5pm deadline for nominations to be Labour’s representative in the race.

The Labour candidate will start as red-hot favourite in Sheffield, which has been Labour-run since 2011.

Caborn, who held ministerial posts in the department for culture, media and sport, as well as trade and industry, under Tony Blair, said his priority was to ensure people in south Yorkshire finally enjoyed the benefits of devolution.

“Now is the time to co-operate across South Yorkshire to build a new economy with great opportunities for advanced manufacturing, health and well-being, and the digital and creative industries,” he said.

“I will also fight for better transport funding for our region. It is deeply unfair that almost £2,000 per person is being spent on transport projects in London, while people in our region receive under £200 per person. I want to reverse this shocking disparity.

“This is my home… I have the experience required to deliver locally. I’ve shown that time and again, from my work on the 2012 Olympics to the advanced manufacturing park. I want to work together to bring power back to South Yorkshire and restore some local pride.”

The devolution deal has been dogged by disputes within Yorkshire as well as apparent backsliding from Sajid Javid, the communities secretary.

Earlier this month mayor of Doncaster and the leader of Barnsley council called on Javid to postpone the election, due in May, and to create a post of Yorkshire mayor by 2020, according to the BBC.

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