Tuesday, September 13, 2016

News: SCR devolution edges nearer

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The Sheffield City Region Combined Authority will submit the results of its consultation on devolution to the Secretary of State as concerns remain over the prospect of a city region mayor.

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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Councillor Sir Steve Houghton CBE, Chair of the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority, said: "The Sheffield city region is committed to the substantial devolution of powers and funding including £1.3bn of investment through the Devolution Agreement. Today we have agreed to submit our consultation responses to the Secretary of State, which marks the next step on our devolution journey.

"The elected mayor is not yet a done deal. We are seeking clarity from Government on whether this is still needed as there are still significant concerns around the mayoral model amongst a number of city region authorities. We won't make the final decision to go ahead unless we are absolutely sure that this is best possible outcome for our residents and that there are no other options open to us. Any decision on the mayor and any election timetable is therefore subject to these considerations.

"Our consultation results show that local residents and businesses are supportive of devolving additional powers to the Sheffield City Region and formalising Bassetlaw and Chesterfield as constituent members. This is another step on our devolution journey which puts Sheffield City Region in the driving seat."

The Sheffield City Region expects to enter into dialogue with officials from Government about the content of the draft Orders, put forward in July, which set out additional powers and functions which the Combined Authority is seeking and the governance changes needed to operate a Mayoral Combined Authority. This will include extending the boundaries of the Authority and to amend the Mayoral Election Order so that the election on 4 May 2017 includes residents from Bassetlaw and Chesterfield.

The consultation, which recieved more than 2,200 responses, found that the majority of residents, businesses and civic institutions who responded to the consultation supported the general principle of devolution but support was not universal or unanimous and the consultation did raise issues and matters that the Secretary of State should have regard to when considering the nature and extent of future orders.

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

Sheffield city region consultation website

Images: SCR LEP


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