Doncaster MBC chief executive Jo Miller has been caught up in a row with Sheffield City Council leader Julie Dore (Lab) after the Sheffield City Region’s devolution deal collapsed.
Reports from the BBC suggested Cllr Dore accused Ms Miller of being a “disgrace” at the end of this morning’s meeting of the combined authority.
Cllr Dore went on to say in an interview she felt “absolutely” betrayed by Ms Miller for her role in pursuing a Yorkshire-wide devolution deal.
This comes as the Department for Communities & Local Government said it was “absolutely clear that we will not consider a deal for the whole of Yorkshire”.
LGC reported earlier how Barnsley MBC and Doncaster MBC both opposed going ahead with a deal they previously signed up to last year. Both councils have in recent months pursued a Yorkshire-wide devolution deal along with 15 other council leaders. However, the leaders of Sheffield City Council and Rotherham MBC have remained steadfast supporters of securing the Sheffield City Region deal.
During negotiations with the government over the deal secured in 2015, Cllr Dore claimed Ms Miller “did a separate deal behind closed doors with the government to get their college turned into an infrastructure college”.
Speaking to the BBC, Cllr Dore said: “All along we have all fought for what we wanted. Jo Miller herself did and it’s actually Jo Miller who started the negotiations with [Leeds City Council chief executive] Tom Riordan to then release herself from South Yorkshire when in fact Jo Miller was instrumental in helping us to get the South Yorkshire deal originally.”
When Cllr Dore was asked if she felt “betrayed” by Ms Miller, Cllr Dore said: “I do. Yes, absolutely. I feel there’s been a serious failure of trust because when I do deals with my colleagues we do deals together - we work on what’s in the interests of South Yorkshire… We don’t go behind closed doors and say ‘If you give us this bit we will go into that deal’ and because I know that’s what’s happened then I know that will happen in Yorkshire which means the Yorkshire deal won’t go ahead.”
Responding to the accusations, Doncaster mayor Ros Jones (Lab) said: “I don’t believe we’re a disgrace. I’m here to get the best deal possible for Doncaster and the widest possible footprint will be better than the four South Yorkshire authorities.”
Responding on Twitter this afternoon, Ms Miller said she would not comment other than to “refute inaccurate statements in their entirety”.
Meanwhile, a DCLG spokeswoman told LGC: “It is very disappointing that South Yorkshire councils have pulled away from their devolution deal, which would see the area benefit from around £1 billion of new government investment.
“We remain ready and willing to work with local leaders to implement the deal and have no intention to undo the legislation that has already been enacted in Parliament, including legislation for a mayoral election in May 2018.
“We’ve been absolutely clear that we will not consider a deal for the whole of Yorkshire.”