Friday, July 28, 2017

News: Chambers press case for devolution deal


Business leaders in Rotherham are urging South Yorkshire's politicians to seal the £900m Sheffield city region devolution deal with the Government.

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.

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.

Echoing the calls made by Sir Nigel Knowles, chair of the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, the Chambers in Rotherham & Barnsley, and Sheffield, are putting forward their views, along with their members, to local council bosses on pressing ahead with the deal. Concerns have been raised over the loss of funding, the impact on business confidence and that continued delays risk portraying the region as "failing and dysfunctional."


A draft letter from Andrew Denniff, the chief executive of the Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber of Commerce, and Richard Wright, his counterpart at Sheffield Chamber, has been circulated in order for members to add their support.

The letter reads: "We strongly consider that the citizens and businesses of our Region deserve better than to see uncertainty by our leaders jeopardising the prospect of us obtaining the significant additional funding, which is part of the devolved powers package.

"Our Region cannot be allowed to stand still or go backwards. Nor can we be allowed to be portrayed as a "failing and dysfunctional" Region. This is of significant concern for the development of South Yorkshire and for the continuation and expansion of the positive steps forward we have taken in recent years.

"We understand that there is a desire among some of you to explore a pan-Yorkshire deal in preference to completing the South Yorkshire deal, which remains on the table. Not only do we consider the Government has made clear its opposition to such a county-wide deal, we believe that, even if it was available, it is far less beneficial to our Region at this time, than proceeding to develop our South Yorkshire economy independently, to position us more strongly as a confident economic force, both within the Yorkshire Region and in comparison to other UK city regions.

"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."

Last year, the Presidents of both Sheffield and Barnsley & Rotherham Chambers of Commerce announced an intention to promote a greater sense of partnership between the two organisations. The move reflects a desire to work as a "regional chamber movement" across South Yorkshire, ensuring powerful representation of the local business community in a time of devolution.

BR Chamber website

Images: SCR LEP


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