Thursday, December 3, 2015

News: Views wanted on devolution deal

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Residents and businesses are being invited to have their say and get involved in the debate on the in-principle Sheffield City Region (SCR) Devolution Deal with the Government.

The SCR was one of 38 bids submitted from major cities and regions from across the country wanting to take control of how public money is spent in their local area. It could include some £900m of additional cash over the next thirty years to deliver major regeneration, infrastructure and business growth schemes.

It was only the second time in the country that such an agreement has been reached and in return, the Government will require a directly elected Mayor across South Yorkshire to hold accountability for the new powers. Elections could take place as soon as May 2017.

A new website has been launched containing information about the proposals, which also need to be signed of by the constituent councils, and an event for businesses is taking place at The Source later this month.

Councillor Sir Stephen Houghton, Chair of the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority, said: "We're asking residents and businesses to have their say on our proposed deal with Government. We know that business growth and better job opportunities are issues that people really care about and that's why we're encouraging as many people as possible to take part."

"This deal is ultimately based on our belief that decisions that impact on local people will be better made by local leaders, who live and work locally, rather than by civil servants and Ministers in London."

James Newman, Chairman of the Sheffield City Region LEP, said: "The LEP's success means that local business leaders now have an increasingly important part to play in creating stronger local economic growth in Sheffield City Region. This deal enables our local political and business leaders to take decision-making to the next level, making bigger and better local decisions over skills, business growth and infrastructure. I encourage anyone with an interest in expanding their businesses and creating job opportunities for local people to show their support for the deal by visiting our consultation website."

Cllr Chris Read, the Leader of Rotherham Council, said: "This proposed deal puts Rotherham on the national stage – prioritising jobs, housing and infrastructure. It is a measure of our ambition that we want to be one of the first places in the country to be making these kinds of decisions for ourselves rather than depending on London. This consultation is an important opportunity for members of the public to find out more about what's on the table, and to have their say about what we do for ourselves and what we leave to national government in the future. I encourage people to take part and look forward to hearing what businesses and the wider community have to say."

However, a report to Sheffield Council's Overview & Scrutiny Management Committee, highlights "a number of challenges" which Sheffield and SCR are keen pursue further with Government. Namely, the issue that only the voters of South Yorkshire council areas in SCR will be able to vote in the proposed Mayoral election; that the Government has set out that the mayor would essentially have veto over decisions at the Combined Authority; that more control should be handed over on issues regarding 16-18 vocational skills; and that housing remains a largely centralised policy area.

Devolution Deal website

Images: SCR

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