Friday, August 12, 2016

News: Devolution legal challenge

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Derbyshire County Council is mounting a legal challenge against the consultation regarding the creation of the Sheffield City Region Mayoral Combined Authority.

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.

In return, the Government will require a directly elected mayor to hold accountability for the new powers. 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.

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Currently non-constituent members, Chesterfield and Bassetlaw Councils, have signalled their intention to join the Combined Authority.

Before the new powers are formalised by Government, consultation with residents and businesses needs to take place. Public meetings held across the region and a consultation website have been used to reach 250,000 residents.

Derbyshire County Council is now seeking permission from the High Court in London for a judicial review into the public consultation after Sheffield City Region ignored its calls to withdraw the consultation that the county council believes is "misleading and flawed."

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Rothbiz explained last month what new and current powers would sit with the authority and mayor.

Cllr. Anne Western, leader of Derbyshire County Council, said: "We need to act now and send out a strong message to help put a stop to these proposals or risk Chesterfield spending the next 30 years living in South Yorkshire's shadow.

"I know we'll be criticised for taking this action by some who claim it's not the best use of money.

"But the fact is that if Chesterfield becomes a full member of Sheffield City Region it will undoubtedly be at a huge financial cost to Derbyshire County Council − and therefore Derbyshire taxpayers − in making our services fit in with new arrangements for Chesterfield, not to mention around £1m in business rates from Markham Vale which would all be transferred to Sheffield City Region."

If a judicial review goes ahead, the county council will present evidence to a High Court judge and ask for Sheffield City Region's consultation to be quashed because it is insufficient and therefore unlawful.

Sheffield City Region's public consultation and engagement exercise, which cost £350,000, closes on today.

Both Derbyshire County Council and Chesterfield Council have set out the reasons for their stances.

SCR Devolution website

Images: Chesterfield Council

1 comments:

Anonymous,  August 12, 2016 at 10:26 AM  

I notice Derbyshire CC don't mention that they are misleading their constituents with their campaign against the devolution deal and elected Mayor. Their Campaign says Do you want Chesterfield to join Sheffield? Do you want a Sheffield Mayor to control services in Chesterfield? Which is factually incorrect and misleading - so who is misleading who?

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