Sheffield City Region devolution poll set to be run again

Residents will be polled on devolution again.
Residents will be polled on devolution again.
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A huge consultation on Sheffield City Region’s devolution deal is being run again after the first one was challenged in court.

Officials are set to start the £130,000 process again in May after last year’s was judged to be unlawful.

A High Court judge ruled the consultation was invalid because it failed to ask Chesterfield people if they wanted to be part of Sheffield City Region.

It resulted in a £900m devolution deal being delayed by a year.

Now, council chiefs on the region’s Combined Authority have agreed to re-run the eight-week process, from the end of May.

Polling company Ipsos Mori, which advised on questions the first time, is set to be re-hired. It is also set to produce a final report.

As part of devolution, Chesterfield was set to join Sheffield City Region as a full member.

Derbyshire County Council, which opposes the move, challenged the consultation in the High Court.

In December a judge ruled it failed to ask Chesterfield residents if they agreed to the plan and was invalid.

The devolution deal, set to bring money and powers to the region, is in return for an elected ‘metro-mayor’. The Government has said the polls which were set for May will now be held in May 2018 at the earliest.

At the same time, politicians in West Yorkshire - who have failed to agree their own deal - are agitating for ‘Whole Yorkshire’ devolution. West Yorkshire Combined Authority staged a conference in York earlier this month attended by representatives from councils across the county including Barnsley and Doncaster - although their leaders have insisted they remain committed to the Sheffield deal. Rotherham and Sheffield refused to go.

Northern Powerhouse minister Andrew Percy has repeatedly said there are no plans for Yorkshire-wide devolution.