'˜Sheffield Mayor shouldn't be in charge of council services in Chesterfield'

Derbyshire County Council has raised concerns over a public consultation about plans to put a Sheffield Mayor in charge of key services in Chesterfield.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 15th July 2016, 12:27 pm
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 5:36 pm
County council leader Anne Western.
County council leader Anne Western.

The authority believes the current consultation – which was launched by Sheffield City Region Combined Authority on July 1 – is misleading and flawed and should be halted.

By law, Sheffield City Region is required to consult with the public on plans forcing the county council to hand over responsibility to a Mayor and combined authority for running some services in Chesterfield, including roads, public transport and travel concessions.

The county council believes the consultation documents do not tell the full story and do not ask the key question of whether or not people think Chesterfield should become a full member of Sheffield City Region.

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Councillor Anne Western, county council leader, said: “Local people feel hoodwinked.

“The question they really want to answer isn’t included in the consultation and it’s essential that Derbyshire residents get a full chance to have their say in order for the consultation to be both legal and fair.

“People are being asked how the proposals should work when the fundamental question is really ‘do you think these plans should go ahead at all?’

“This is a really complicated subject and Sheffield City Region hasn’t explained well enough how it intends to take over these services and run them − so how can anyone be expected to give an informed response?”

Coun Western added: “This is a huge decision with no easy way back and I do not believe these plans are in the interests of any of the county’s residents, especially those in Chesterfield. Sheffield City Region’s proposals are part of a 30 year plan so if Chesterfield becomes a full member it will affect the county’s largest town and beyond for generations to come. It will mean huge changes to key services in Chesterfield such as public transport, major roads and funding to maintain all roads in the borough. And it may not end there − more powers over Chesterfield services could be handed to the Sheffield Mayor and combined authority in the future. This could put Chesterfield at the back of the queue for even more funding and put even more decisions about Chesterfield in the hands of people outside Derbyshire.

A Sheffield City Region spokesman said it had received a letter from the county council and it is being considered by its legal advisers.