Nine councils in South Yorkshire are planning to form a combined authority that would be responsible for transport, economic development and regeneration across the region.
The authorities – Sheffield City Council, Barnsley MBC, Doncaster MBC, Rotherham MBC, Bassetlaw DC, Bolsover DC, Chesterfield DC, Derbyshire Dales DC and North East Derbyshire DC – believe the move would contribute an extra £1.5bn to the exchequer by 2022.
It follows announcements that Merseyside, West Yorkshire and the North East were planning to set up combined authorities, the governance model that the government has indicated has the best hope of benefiting from local growth deals.
Under the South Yorkshire plans, which have been put out to consultation by the Department for Communities and Local Government, the new authority would take effect on 1 April 2014.
The consultation document said the area had also pursued other attempts at joint working, such as the Sheffield city region leaders group and the Sheffield city region local enterprise partnership. However, it said, these arrangements “have no legal powers and rely on delegations from or agreements by their relevant councils”. This “can slow down the implementation of board decisions as well as creating ambiguity around the decision making process,” it said.
It said the nine councils estimated that there was potential to create a further 68,000 jobs, which would help to deliver over £29.7 billion gross value added. This would contribute an extra £1.5bn to the exchequer by 2022, it said.
The government has given a strong indication that it will let the plans go ahead. Its consultation document said communities secretary Eric Pickles “has adopted a localist policy” in approving the plans.
It said: “This is to say that where councils come forward with such proposals which command wide local support, if the secretary of state considers that the statutory conditions are met he will invite Parliament to approve the order establishing the proposed combined authority.”
Local government minister Brandon Lewis said in a statement: “By encouraging joint working by local authorities across South Yorkshire and more widely, and having all local authority leaders in a room together at one time, decisions can be made quickly. This boosts economic growth and drives forward business success.”
The consultation closes on 7 October.