Friday, January 13, 2017

News: Legal action delays mayoral election

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The proposed election of a mayor for the Sheffield city region has been delayed by a legal battle with the Combined Authority (CA) now working towards elections in 2018.

Following the judgement at the end of last year in the case brought by Derbyshire County Council, local authority leaders have stated that it is not possible to hold a Mayoral election in May 2017.

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

In August, Derbyshire County Council mounted a legal challenge against the consultation regarding the creation of the Sheffield City Region Mayoral Combined Authority (CA).

The High Court heard the argument that the consultation "was so fair it was unlawful" as it did not include a specific question regarding Chesterfield, currently a non-constituent member, who, like Bassetlaw, signalled their intention to join the Combined Authority.

The judge concluded that there should have been a question asking whether Chesterfield Council should be part of the SCR CA. Consultation will have to take place again.

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The draft order that would enable a new mayor to be elected was put before Parliament in July and the Secretary of State hoped it would go before Parliament again in mid-December with final steps concluding by the end of January 2017.

A spokesperson for the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority said: "Local leaders of the Combined Authority have now had an opportunity to consider the high court judgement and its implications on the Sheffield City Region's Devolution Deal and the Mayoral geography. On the advice of the Combined Authority's managing director and legal officer it is now not possible to hold a Mayoral election in May 2017.

"The Combined Authority is now working towards a Mayoral Election in May 2018. To this end, the Combined Authority is drawing up fresh plans to consult on its proposals, with a view to satisfying the requirements of the High Court judgement."

The £900m devolution 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.

At the same time, Sheffield City Region has received an outline proposal from West Yorkshire for a whole Yorkshire devolution option.

In a joint statement, Leader of Barnsley Council, Cllr. Sir Stephen Houghton, and Mayor of Doncaster, Ros Jones, said: "We remain committed to working economically across the Sheffield City Region and achieving our ambitious plans for job creation and economic growth. However, we have always said that we wish to secure the best possible devolution deal for Barnsley and Doncaster. We will therefore work with colleagues to explore this new Yorkshire-wide option, to ensure we give all potential devolution solutions proper consideration, so that residents can be fully informed when being asked to participate in consultation over the summer months, and that devolution delivers the best possible outcomes for local residents and businesses."

Images: SCR LEP


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