South Yorkshire devolution in doubt as councils clash over next steps

South Yorkshire’s devolution deal took a serious knock today after a statement from the Sheffield City Region (SCR) revealed that two councils, Barnsley and Doncaster MBC, have refused to back the plans.

Though there has not yet been any official confirmation that the authorities have dropped out of the deal, a statement from SCR admitted that councils in the region were at odds over devolution in Yorkshire.

Despite Sajid Javid saying that a South Yorkshire deal, which was agreed in 2015, was the only plan the DCLG would back at this moment in time, a number of Yorkshire councils declared their intention to push for a pan-county deal back in August.

Board meeting papers last week showed that SCR had recommended a public consultation be launched as early as this week to keep the region’s deal on track to coincide with the May 2018 local elections.

“At a meeting of the SCR Combined Authority this morning, the leaders of Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield councils could not reach agreement on the recommendation put before the meeting, which was to initiate public consultation on mayoral powers relating to devolution,” a statement from the authority said.

“However, as things stand, a mayoral election is still set to go ahead in May 2018, to elect a mayor for the SCR Combined Authority.

“This mayor will chair the Combined Authority, have equivalent voting rights to existing local authorities at its meetings, and also have some powers relating to bus franchising.”

Barnsley and Doncaster have both previously expressed their intention to be part of the pan-Yorkshire deal, and this may put a spanner in the works of devolution for South Yorkshire moving forward.

The South Yorkshire deal has been met with plenty of issues throughout 2017, as two smaller councils, Chesterfield BC and Bassetlaw DC also announced they would not be involved back in June.

A statement from chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, who is heading up the pan-Yorkshire deal, added that the authority was committed to moving forward on the basis set out by the “coalition of the willing”.

“It’s time for Yorkshire’s voice to be heard as loud as those of London and other regions, and it is too important not to continue those discussions seeking a way forward with all interested parties,” she explained.

“We will continue to work on securing a devolution deal that Yorkshire can be proud of, delivering jobs, homes and prospects that the people of this county deserve and growth that benefits the whole of the country.”

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