Friday, March 4, 2016

News: Rotherham Council backs devolution deal

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Rotherham Council has formally ratified the proposed Sheffield city region (SCR) devolution deal with the Government that is set to bring with it some £900m of additional cash over the next thirty years to deliver major regeneration, infrastructure and business growth schemes.

The proposal was officially backed by a meeting of the Full Council this week after Council leader, Chris Read outlined what the borough can expect to get out of the deal.

The deal includes a new gain share deal within an envelope of £30m a year for 30 years – giving the SCR the power to use new funding to boost local growth and invest in local manufacturing and innovation.

Further resources are due to be put at the SCR's disposal as part of the "single pot" agreed under the devolution deal. Estimates for this additional share of national funding streams to be included within the single SCR pot have been in excess of a further £1 billion but this is still being quantified through discussions with Government departments.

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 and the Mayor will chair the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority, the members of which will serve as the Mayor's Cabinet.

Admitting that he would rather have done the deal without having a new mayor, Cllr. Read explained that it was the only way that the Government would agree to more powers and money being devolved. And by being a constituent part of the Sheffield City Region Mayoral Combined Authority would be the only way to secure much needed funding for Rotherham projects.

"You've got to be in it to win it," he told the meeting. "When we want funding to support the new HE campus on Doncaster Gate, we start with the City Region.

"When we consider widening the parkway, where is the money? Through the City Region. When we look to the next stage of development around the Advanced Manufacturing Park and how we can put it on the national stage – it's in this deal.

"And when, going forward, we look at how we can secure more investment in affordable housing, that too means we need to work more closely with our City Region partners.

"I'll be honest. I was cynical about devolution. I didn't want a mayor and I didn't think we could negotiate a deal worth living with one. But seeing this process through changed my mind."

Nigel Knowles, chair of Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, said: "It is welcome news that Rotherham Council is fully supporting the devolution deal. This deal will enable public and private sector leaders to continue to work together to strengthen businesses and create more and better jobs for people in Sheffield City Region."

Subject to ratification of the devolution proposal by all relevant authorities and the SCR Combined Authority, and the making of an Order by Parliament, the first election of City Region Mayor will take place in 2017.

Yesterday, Chesterfield Council took the decision to pursue full constituent membership of the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority and join with the four South Yorkshire authorities.

Rotherham Council website
Sheffield City Region LEP website

Images: Sheffield City Region LEP

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