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Sheffield devo hits latest setback as plans are put on hold until September

A decision on Sheffield City Region’s devolution deal will be put on hold until September, the authority has today announced.

The action was taken as leaders from Barnsley and Doncaster said they wanted to consider their position and whether there were other options to pursue with regards to a devolution deal for the region.

At a meeting of the CA yesterday, Cllr Sir Steve Houghton also said he would temporarily step down from his post as chair of Sheffield CR to avoid any possible conflict of interests with Barnsley, where he is a councillor.

He said that he wanted to look into a “Yorkshire model, a Greater Yorkshire model, an urban Yorkshire model and a South West Yorkshire model.”

Sir Steve also added that there was a lot of information that was confusing the members of his authority, and that further clarity was needed before a decision was finalised.

Sir Nigel Knowles, chair of Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said: “In Sheffield City Region it is our aim to build a centre of business excellence and a super connected city region.

“We’re delivering on this objective with 37,000 additional jobs and growth focused on high value manufacturing and engineering jobs.”

But Sir Nigel added that the LEP remained focused on economic growth and jobs in Sheffield City Region.

“We are committed to the principle that devolution will help us fulfil our economic potential and that this must happen as soon as possible,” he said.

“This was the message that private sector LEP Board members made emphatically at the LEP Board meeting yesterday. Ultimately, implementing the devolution deal is not a LEP decision and it is the four councils in South Yorkshire that must decide.”

Today’s news is the latest in a number of setbacks for the deal. Last month, two lower-tier councils decided to pull out of future proceedings, prompting Sir Steve to say that “the city region now need to take the time to consider fully the next steps in the city region’s devolution journey”.

And in March, PSE revealed that papers from the CA showed how rebooting the deal would cost an additional £100,000 to launch another public consultation.

Before that, following a legal challenge against the plans that looked like it could stop the deal in its tracks, it was found that a different consultation on devolution would cost local taxpayers over half a million pounds.

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