Sheffield businessmen warn devolution deadlock is deterring investors

Sheffield Property Association chairman Martin McKervey
Sheffield Property Association chairman Martin McKervey

A leading business association has warned that the South Yorkshire devolution deadlock could have a “significant impact” on the growth of the economy.

The Sheffield Property Association, an independent group of individuals and organisations with an interest in land, property and development, says uncertainty around the deal is affecting investors.

Sheffield City Regional Mayor Dan Jarvis has declined to comment.

The SPA warning comes just days after Mr Jarvis was criticised by Sheffield Labour Group. Labour will put a motion before full council next week calling on him to sort out the deal once and for all.

Mr Jarvis has been Mayor for six months but the four councils still have not signed a deal. It means Mr Jarvis has no powers and cannot access a pot of £17m, which grows each week.

There are 50 members of SPA, who are responsible for 22,100 jobs in the city. Chairman Martin McKervey said: “The proposed devolution deal has the potential to have a significant impact on the growth of our economy.

“The uncertainty around whether our devolution deal will be implemented does impact on investors. Uncertainty about whether a deal will be agreed makes it harder for businesses to plan for the future.”

He added that investors will not wait forever. “The deal will clearly give the whole of South Yorkshire more powers and funding to grow our economy and create jobs.

“Sheffield and Rotherham want to implement the deal. Barnsley and Doncaster have now said they want to consider other options. We must respect the wishes of those elected by their communities.

“Equally, we must recognise that deadlock creates uncertainty and uncertainty runs the serious risk of less investment and fewer jobs being created.

“We, like others in the private sector, offer our full support and assistance to the mayor to break the impasse. Investors will not wait forever.”

Earlier this week, Coun Mazher Iqbal, Cabinet Member for Business and Development, said the business community was unhappy with the lack of progress.

“I have been involved in this for almost 18 months so I live and breathe it and it’s not just my frustration, it’s the business community that has brought this to a head. This is an economic deal.

“Dan needs to explain himself to the business community. We are a city that makes, innovates and creates but we want to see some action.”