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12.09.16

Sheffield devolution set to go ahead despite ‘misconceived’ challenge

Devolution in Sheffield looks set to go ahead despite protests from two of the county councils involved, as members of the combined authority meet today.

The Sheffield City Region (SCR) combined authority is to decide whether to ask Sajid Javid, the communities and local government secretary, to order the next stage of the devolution deal to go ahead.

The deal, which will see the combined authority receiving significant powers under the leadership of an elected mayor, has run into trouble after Derbyshire County Council announced that it was launching a legal challenge.

Derbyshire county council argues that the proposals are legally invalid because the accompanying consultation has not been rigorous enough.

In addition, the leader of Nottinghamshire county council has raised concerns that the proposals will lead to a decline in Bassetlaw’s economic prospects after it hands over control of key services to the combined authority.

In papers for the board meeting, SCR said it would fully contest Derbyshire’s “factually and legally misconceived” case. It adds that the case “has no bearing on progressing the devolution timetable” because Derbyshire county council has not sought any interim relief.

The report also says that the consultation has found “a broad measure of support” for the devolution deal.

If SCR agrees, it will submit the results of the consultation to Javid and ask him to produce draft orders granting the devolved powers to the combined authority and amending the electoral boundaries of the authority to include Bassetlaw and Chesterfield.

The orders will then be subject to parliamentary debate, which is expected to conclude by the end of the year to allow for a mayoral election next May.

Javid announced last week that he is withdrawing the north east devolution deal after it was rejected by four of the councils involved.

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