Sheffield Council to make decision on £900m devolution deal next week

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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Sheffield City Council has confirmed it will hold a special meeting next week to make a decision on its involvement in a devolution deal for the region, saying it has now 'secured' the necessary changes to the agreement.

Despite signing the provisional agreement with Chancellor George Osborne in October last year - the council has previously held out on bringing the deal before its full council due to having a string of concerns about the terms reached.

Leader of Sheffield City Council, Julie Dore says she believes that the 'key changes' the council has been fighting for have now been secured.

The new deal will now be brought before full council at an extraordinary meeting due to be held on Friday, March 18, when it is hoped the settlement will be rubber stamped by councillors.

Coun Dore says the deal is 'not the perfect devolution settlement', but adds that it is the only investment offer on the table.

She said: “Clearly we are still not getting the level of investment that was made in the past.

"For example Yorkshire Forward alone had a budget of £277 million per year, which is far greater than the £30 million available through this deal.

"However, this is the only new money that is being offered for economic growth and by not agreeing to it we would be turning our back on the investment that is available to support business create jobs and give our young people the skills they need.”

“We have been fighting for more devolved powers for a long time now.

"But, I’ve always said that the deal has to be right for Sheffield. We made it clear that we would not sign Sheffield up to a model of devolution that we did not think was in the interest of our city or the city region and that is what people have told us therefore we made it clear that key changes were needed to make this deal workable, and that is what we have secured.

“Firstly we were clear that mayor should not have a power of veto which has now been resolved, this is important as the system that the government wanted us to have would have given the mayor the opportunity to veto every decision. We also did not want to support a South Yorkshire only model where the people of South Yorkshire would have a mayor but other parts of the region wouldn’t.

"This has now been resolved with Chesterfield and Bassetlaw proposing to become full members of Sheffield City Region, whilst Bolsover, North East Derbyshire and Derbyshire Dales will fall outside those policies the mayor has responsibility for.”

“We have stood up for Sheffield to get these results and by taking a strong line we have delivered the demands we set out.

Sheffield will be the last of the full members of the Sheffield City Region, which also includes Barnsley, Bassetlaw, Chesterfield, Doncaster and Rotherham, to bring the deal before its full council.

Bassetlaw Council will discuss the settlement at a meeting on Thursday, while the other signed-up local authorities have already ratified the agreement that will see the region being awarded £900million over the next 30 years.

Colin Ross, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Sheffield City Council told The Star: “We are glad Julie Dore has finally got her act together, shown some leadership and called this meeting and stopped stringing along our City Region partners.

“We welcome more powers from government and the £900million of extra investment coming into Sheffield City Region to help our local economy which is a direct result of Nick Clegg and Liberal Democrats in the Coalition working hard to get devolution deals for City Regions.

“However, we are worried that this dithering from our local Labour Councillors shows that they are lukewarm about this extra cash and we will be watching Labour to ensure they spend this money in the right way and work with local businesses to ensure the maximum economic benefit for local people and not waste it on pet projects which Labour have a track record of doing.”

Members of the public are also invited to attend the meeting, which will be held at the Town Hall in Pinstone Street at 5pm on March 18.

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