Wednesday, July 20, 2016

News: Parliamentary progress for potential mayor

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The draft order that would enable a new mayor to be elected next year in the Sheffield city region (SCR) has been put before Parliament.

The draft Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield Combined Authority (Election of Mayor) Order 2016 was the first piece of business for Andrew Percy MP in his new role as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

As a proposed devolution deal progresses, a Mayoral Combined Authority is set to be created, building on the 2013 agreement which saw the nine local authorities that comprise the city region create a new legal body with responsibility for transport, economic development and regeneration.

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.

Mr Percy described the order as "a milestone in the implementation of the devolution deal agreed between the Government and local leaders in the Sheffield city region."

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Elections are set to take place as soon as May 2017 and the mayor will chair the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority (CA), the members of which (the leaders of the constituent councils) will serve as the mayor's Cabinet.

Primary legislation needs to be introduced and a proposed scheme of delegation is currently out for consultation. It sets out how a new Mayoral Combined Authority will work and how the mayor's powers will operate. Functions will be split between the mayor and the Combined Authority.

Functions cover skills, transport and infrastructure, and job creation in the Sheffield city region - and decisions over how £1.3 billion of funding will be spent.

Cllr Chris Read, Leader of Rotherham Council, said: "The devolution deal is hugely important for the people of Rotherham. It could be the key to unlocking many of the significant projects we are looking to deliver here in Rotherham, and to securing the skills development and jobs that are so critical to Rotherham's economic regeneration.

"It is important that the proposals we have negotiated are all about drawing down powers and funding from the government to enable us to take more decisions about our area in our area, and aren't about changing the role of councils to shifting powers upwards away from communities.

"I hope as many people as possible will take the opportunity – either in person at the roadshow or online – to give their views about what devolution could do for them, and the benefits it could bring for generations to come. I look forward to hearing from residents."

Along with Bassetlaw, Chesterfield Borough Council is seeking full membership of the combined authority but Derbyshire County Council is warning that it could mean the end of Derbyshire as an administrative county. It adds that it wants to work as "a good neighbour" but not be part of the combined authority because it does not believe this would be in the best interests of Derbyshire residents. An order to extend the area would need to be tabled to Parliament.

Rotherham's roadshow on devolution will take place in All Saints' Square today, between 9.30am and 4pm.

SCR Devolution website

Images: SCR

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