Nick Clegg: Devolved powers could be ‘watershed’ moment for Sheffield

Nick Clegg
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New ‘London-style’ powers for Sheffield will be a ‘watershed moment’ for the city, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg has said.

Chancellor George Osborne is to lay out new devolved powers for northern cities in his Autumn Statement next month.

Mr Clegg said the move to hand over more powers on transport and house-building decisions could pave the way for ‘huge improvements’ in the Sheffield city region.

Sheffield, Leeds and Manchester have been chosen as the beneficiaries of the new powers.

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It was announced earlier this week Greater Manchester is to get an elected mayor in return for greater local control over billions of pounds of public money. The proposals for Sheffield and Leeds will not be contingent on them having an elected mayor, and the details of what powers will be devolved to the two cities are still being finalised.

As part of the changes, it is intended a Sheffield version of the Oyster card, used to pay for travelling on public transport in London, will be introduced.

Mr Clegg said: “It’s clear to me that being in the vanguard of areas to receive these London-style powers can be a watershed moment for Sheffield. It will give us the tools required to make huge improvements in our area without relying on someone in Whitehall to give the green light. With these new powers Sheffield won’t just be able to punch its weight, I’m confident that with everyone in the region working together we have the opportunity to be leading the pack.”

The announcement follows on from Mr Clegg’s Northern Futures project, in which he has been seeking ideas from local people, business leaders and academics on how economic performance in the north can rival London. Labour are calling for powers to also be devolved to counties - a move backed by Derbyshire Council. Ed Miliband wants the introduction of an English Devolution Act, allowing cities and counties to set their own business rates.