The Sheffield City Region devolution deal has fallen apart, despite a last minute intervention from communities secretary Sajid Javid.
Sir Stephen Houghton
At a meeting of the Sheffield City Region CA this morning Barnsley MBC leader Sir Stephen Houghton (Lab) and Doncaster MBC mayor Ros Jones (Lab) both opposed going ahead with a deal they previously signed up to last year.
In recent months they have been pursuing a Yorkshire-wide devolution deal along with 15 other council leaders. However, the leaders of Sheffield City Council and Rotherham MBC remained steadfast supporters of securing the Sheffield City Region deal.
The Yorkshire Post reported over the weekend how Mr Javid wrote to the region’s council leaders and MPs saying the government “will not consider any proposal for a Yorkshire wide deal that involved one or more of the four South Yorkshire councils”.
Despite that, Barnsley and Doncaster this morning voted against implementing the devolution deal as planned.
A mayoral election could still take place next May - at a cost of £1m to the combined authority - as an order has already been laid in parliament. However, the mayor would hardly have any powers.
The region’s devolution deal had included commitments that would have seen the region gain control of £30m a year to boost economic growth over 30 years, control of a £20m a year consolidated transport budget up to 2020-21, and control of the 19+ adult skills funding budget worth up to £30m a year, among other powers. But those will not be forthcoming from the government now.
A Sheffield City Region CA spokeswoman said the four leaders “could not reach agreement” during this morning’s meeting and added: “However, as things stand, a mayoral election is still set to go ahead in May 2018, to elect a mayor for the SCR Combined Authority.
“This mayor will chair the combined authority, have equivalent voting rights to existing local authorities at its meetings, and also have some powers relating to bus franchising.”
The Sheffield City Region was originally due to elect a mayor in May 2017 before plans were derailed by a row over whether the districts of Chesterfield BC and Bassetlaw DC, in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire respectively, should join the CA as full members. Following a legal challenge by Derbyshire CC, in December the High Court ordered the city region to re-run parts of its consultation on the devolution deal, but this is not going to happen now following this morning’s vote. Chesterfield and Bassetlaw have since decided against joining the city region as full members.
This story was updated at 12.41pm on 18 September to include the statement from the Sheffield City Region CA.