COMMENT: 900m reasons why we must stick with devolution in Sheffield City Region

The region's prosperity is at risk, business chiefs say.
The region's prosperity is at risk, business chiefs say.
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It’s the silence that’s driving people nuts.

Sheffield City Region’s devolution deal has taken a serious battering – yet our politicians have nothing to say.

David Walsh Business Editor at The Star

David Walsh Business Editor at The Star

The deal offers a once-in-a-generation chance to seize £900m and powers from government in return for an elected mayor.

The cash and control are very welcome, and although no one wants another layer of bureaucracy, the mayor’s job would be to unite and fight for the region on a national stage and knock heads together when local councils fall out.

Chesterfield and Bassetlaw pulled out of the this deal due to political pressure from elsewhere.

Following this, you might think South Yorkshire council leaders would reassure people it was still on track.

Yet we’ve heard nothing.

And it is that silence which has prompted top business people to contact me to express fears that its future hangs in the balance.

The silence is bizarre and baffling to business leaders like Sir Nigel Knowles and Richard Wright who believe the promise of jobs, prosperity and local control are paramount.

But they aren’t privy to the internal workings of the Labour party. They aren’t interested in political rivalries. They aren’t concerned that an elected mayor might deprive them of some of their powers.

They just want growth and a chance to stay in the top flight of English cities like Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham.

The mayoral election isn’t until May next year. But the process starts next month.

For the first time in a generation our region has returned to economic growth.

Please sign my open letter calling for politicians to stick with it – and vote for growth. Find me on LinkedIn or email me: david.walsh@thestar.co.uk