LEP Chair responds to Chesterfield devolution decision

Published 13th June 2017 at 2:32pm

13 June 2017

Statement from the Chair of the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership on the decision by Chesterfield Borough Council to not seek formal membership of the SCR Combined Authority

In October 2015 Sheffield City Region agreed a ground breaking new devolution deal with the Government of the day. This was a deal that put in our hands the powers and resources to help grow our economy and for our own public-private partnership to take control of our economic destiny.

Building on this deal, and as a way of solidifying the public sector partnership, places that were hitherto outside of the formal partnership were empowered to join these formal collaborations of local councils (called Combined Authorities) where there are strong economic linkages.

Chesterfield, with its strong economic relationship with South Yorkshire indicated their desire to pursue that arrangement and the Combined Authority has worked closely since then to bring it to reality.

This has not been a journey without political, administrative and procedural challenges and disappointingly these challenges have led to a position where Chesterfield have announced that they now do not intend to continue to seek this formal “constituent” member relationship.

The decision whilst entirely understandable is disappointing. The ability for our locally elected leaders to work across traditional administrative and county boundaries is critical on big issues such as public transport, skills investment and infrastructure. There is no doubt that this decision makes it a little harder to do this.

Both public and private sector members are now consulting with colleagues to agree the next steps on the city region’s devolution deal. These are important decisions with long-lasting impact. It’s important our politicians get it right and have the time in which to do so.

The private sector LEP board members are absolutely committed to working with local politicians to deliver the devolution of powers and resources to local areas.

Whatever happens, Chesterfield remains a critically important part of our strong public-private partnership. I am delighted that Tricia Gilby, the new Leader of Chesterfield has become the vice-chair of the city regions Combined Authority. This is a powerful statement of our politicians’ collective will to work together.

We’ve proved that even with limited powers and resources that a strong private and public partnerships can get things done quicker and for better value than nationally led schemes. That’s something our partnership, alongside record jobs growth, a record year for inward investment and spades in the ground on a programme of infrastructure schemes that are helping transform our urban landscape is quite rightly very proud.

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