Tuesday, August 15, 2017

News: Businesses back calls for SCR devo deal

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More than 150 prominent business leaders in South Yorkshire have answered the recent call from the local chambers to press local authorities to take action over a devolution deal for the Sheffield city region (SCR).

Rothbiz reported last month that the Chambers in Rotherham & Barnsley, and Sheffield, were putting forward their views, along with their members, to local council bosses on pressing ahead with a £900m devolution deal with the Government. Concerns were raised over the loss of funding, the impact on business confidence and that continued delays risk portraying the region as "failing and dysfunctional."

As part of a deal with central government, 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.

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Following withdrawals from councils who had originally intended to become constituent members, and with others wanting to secure the best possible devolution deal for their area, the combined authority (CA) has delayed a decision on a way forward.

The leaders of Rotherham and Sheffield Councils did not join leaders from 17 other authorities who met recently to agree to the development of a "single ambitious devolution deal for the Yorkshire."

The open letter sent to the leaders of the councils in South Yorkshire, reads: "A Yorkshire deal may emerge as a possibility in the years ahead, but surely we will be better placed to be a strong component of that, should it arise, if we push ahead to really strengthen South Yorkshire first.

"We believe delay in clarifying future intentions now risks us falling further behind other UK regions. This can not be sensible and we ask you to come together urgently to resolve your differences and act collectively in the best interests of South Yorkshire and its citizens."

It added that proceeding with the Sheffield city region deal would "position us more strongly as a confident economic force, both within the Yorkshire region and in comparison to other UK city regions."

In July, Jake Berry MP, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth, said: "While devolution discussions are ongoing elsewhere in Yorkshire, government remains committed to the existing South Yorkshire deal."

Political leaders decided to defer a decision on the SCR deal until September.

Images: SCR


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