Call for Government clarity on Sheffield’s new elected mayor

Theresa May. Pic: PA
Theresa May. Pic: PA
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Sheffield Council is seeking clarification from Theresa May on whether the city region will need to elect a new mayor to gain devolution powers.

It has been suggested the new prime minister may backtrack on the Government’s insistence that areas adopt elected mayors in return for powers.

South Yorkshire councils signed a devolution deal with then chancellor George Osborne last year which should see a mayor for the area elected in 2017 in return for new powers and money but that could now be reviewed.

Downing Street attempted to play down reports that the new prime minister is ready to scrap the commitment to mayors but Yorkshire council sources confirmed the issue is being discussed by Whitehall officials.

South Yorkshire council figures expressed concern that backtracking on mayors could be accompanied by a wholesale re-writing or watering down of the devolution deals struck by Mr Osborne.

A Sheffield City Council spokeswoman said: “This Government created the need to have an elected mayor if they were to be persuaded to back economic growth in cities like Sheffield, and if the same Government chooses to kill the idea then so be it, but they need to decide which way they are facing, and be consistent.

“If they do back off now then they must still back our plans for growth and we will relentlessly hold them to account for that.”

Mr Osborne and David Cameron always insisted they were not imposing elected mayors on areas but council leaders were left in no doubt that the measure was expected in return for a meaningful devolution deal. The new mayor would have powers including transport budgets and planning.