« on: July 16, 2016, 07:17:36 PM »
Looks like the council are not too happy about the possibility of this happening either
County council calls for consultation to be halted
13 July 2016
Fundamental concerns have been raised by Derbyshire County Council over a public consultation about plans to put a Sheffield Mayor in charge of some council services in Chesterfield.
The county council believes the current consultation, launched on 1 July 2016 by Sheffield City Region Combined Authority − a group made up of Sheffield, Doncaster, Barnsley and Rotherham councils − is misleading and flawed.
Now the county council has written formally to the combined authority to highlight the problems we believe are so serious that the consultation should be withdrawn.
Sheffield City Region is required by law to consult with the public on plans forcing the county council to hand over responsibility to a Mayor and combined authority for running services in Chesterfield, including major roads, funding for maintenance and road safety on all roads in the borough, public transport, travel concessions (Gold Card and b_line), skills for employment and major planning and investment projects.
But the county council believes the consultation documents launched by the combined authority do not tell the full story and do not ask the key question whether or not people think Chesterfield should become a full member of Sheffield City Region.
Our Leader, Councillor Anne Western 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?"
An online poll carried out by the county council in February 2016 asked whether or not people thought Chesterfield should join Sheffield. More than 2,500 people took part and 90% said no.
The county council believes people in Chesterfield and the whole of Derbyshire would be worse off if Chesterfield joined Sheffield and is opposing the plans because:
Chesterfield is better-off than most of Sheffield and South Yorkshire which means the borough could be at the back of the queue for money from Sheffield City Region.
The plans will add another layer of local government in Chesterfield and make council services complicated and inefficient.
Many council services in Chesterfield are better than those in Sheffield and South Yorkshire but this could change if these plans go ahead.
Some decisions about Chesterfield's future would be taken by either a Sheffield City Mayor or combined authority. This means Sheffield and South Yorkshire councils would have a say on things like how much money is spent on maintaining roads in Chesterfield and funding for projects to help regenerate the borough.
Councils in Sheffield, Barnsley, Rotherham and Doncaster together with a Sheffield City Region Mayor would each have two votes on joint-decisions affecting Chesterfield's future but Chesterfield Borough Council and Derbyshire County Council would only have one vote each. The county council would be forced to join Sheffield City Region if Chesterfield became a full member.
Chesterfield's fortunes would be tied to a 30 year plan for Sheffield City Region but the only investment outlined for the borough so far is for the first few years.
Changes to services may be bad news for people living in other parts of Derbyshire because the Sheffield City Region Mayor may have little regard for residents in neighbouring Derbyshire districts. For example, it's possible Sheffield City Region could change bus routes in the borough and the frequency of bus services which could make these communities more isolated.
It's a leap in the dark - No other council in the country has joined forces with a combined authority outside their county border.
It could be the thin end of the wedge with the potential for more powers being handed down in the future giving a Sheffield City Region Mayor and combined authority responsibility for making even more decisions about Derbyshire and more influence over Derbyshire people.
Council tax in Chesterfield will pay for services across South Yorkshire − although at this stage it is not possible to say whether council tax will increase or decrease.
Councillor 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.
"We will continue to fight for the people we represent across the whole of Derbyshire but if responsibilities for more and more council services shift to Sheffield City Region then the county council will have less influence when representing the views of local people."