Added powers despite ‘no’ vote for Sheffield elected mayor

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POWERS over skills, transport and the local economy could still be devolved to Sheffield Council by the Government - despite voters overwhelmingly rejecting the idea of an elected mayor.

The Government has said it would still be willing to grant extra powers to cities which voted ‘no’ to having a directly-elected leader - as long as they demonstrated ‘strong governance’.

And Sheffield Council chief executive John Mothersole revealed he has been in negotiations with officials from Whitehall.

The result of the referendum was 82,890 voters in favour of retaining the current system out of 128,638 votes cast.

Currently Sheffield has a leader and cabinet chosen by the largest party of elected councillors in the Town Hall.

Mr Mothersole said: “The turnout of 32 per cent was not very high but there have been lower turnouts elsewhere.

“It is still a resounding result from the people of Sheffield.”

He said: “Julie Dore and I have been down to see the ministerial panel and worked to secure a city deal bringing more powers to Sheffield Council from the Government.

“Ministers have made it clear they are not going to withhold the City Deal from places which rejected the mayoral option, and we are keen to see that Sheffield becomes a stronger city to help boost jobs and growth.”

He added: “Most of the cities which had referendums on elected mayors voted ‘no’, so we will not be excluded from a group of elite cities. And if Sheffield wants to make a point to the Government that is exactly what we will still be able to do.

“We know how to find a way to speak to the relevant ministers.”

Mr Mothersole said he is ‘two to three weeks away’ from concluding a City Deal for Sheffield, which could see the city receive its own dedicated pot of money from the Government for infrastructure projects.

“We hope our City Deal will cover areas such as skills, transport and greater investment in the local economy to help the city region recover and grow.”

Sheffield Council leader, Coun Julie Dore, added: “The result is vindication by the electorate of the current system.

“We told the Government there was no appetite for having an elected mayor in Sheffield and the referendum was a waste of public money at a time we can ill-afford it.”