‘No mayor no deal’ despite big doubts in Sheffield City Region

Sheffield Council leader Julie Dore at the signing of the draft devolution deal with George Osborne and Barnsley Council leader Sir Steve Houghton last year
Sheffield Council leader Julie Dore at the signing of the draft devolution deal with George Osborne and Barnsley Council leader Sir Steve Houghton last year
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More than 70 per cent of people polled in Sheffield City Region support plans for devolution, a survey shows.

Some 1,928 of 2,719 people - 70.9 per cent - said they were in favour of decision-making powers being transferred from government to groups of local councils on issues such as economic development, skills transport housing and infrastructure planning.

Sheffield City Region is this week submitting the results to Government as part of a deal for powers and £1.3bn funding in return for an elected ‘metro mayor’.

The survey found that supporters believed it would boost growth and improve decision making locally.

But, it adds, ‘support was not universal or unanimous and the consultation did raise issues and matters that the Secretary of State should have regard to when considering the nature and extent of future orders’.

Sheffield City Region combines nine council areas via a Combined Authority whose leaders would prefer not to have a mayor and to continue as they are. The Government’s line is ‘no mayor no deal’.

Coun Sir Steve Houghton CBE, chair of the Combined Authority, said: “We have agreed to submit our consultation responses to the Secretary of State, which marks the next step on our devolution journey.

“The elected mayor is not yet a done deal. We are seeking clarity from Government on whether this is still needed as there are still significant concerns around the mayoral model amongst a number of city region authorities. We won’t make the final decision to go ahead unless we are absolutely sure that this is best possible outcome for our residents and that there are no other options open to us.”

A Government spokesman said: “Ministers are as committed as ever to devolving far-reaching powers and almost £1 billion of additional funding for local people through the Sheffield City Region devolution deal.

“The terms of this deal were absolutely clear when it was signed almost a year ago, and work is underway to deliver this for the people of the region so they can elect a powerful new mayor for their area in May 2017.”