Council hits out at Chesterfield devolution deal referendum plan

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Chesterfield Borough Council’s chief has hit out yesterday’s announcement of a referendum over plans for the controversial devolution deal for the town.

Yesterday, Derbyshire Council confirmed it is is to hold a referendum for Chesterfield residents on the devolution of powers to a regional mayor.

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Councillor Tricia Gilby, Chesterfield Borough Council’s leader, said “I’m surprised and disappointed that Derbyshire County Council is pressing ahead with, and spending thousands of pounds of taxpayers money, on a referendum in Chesterfield.

“Sheffield City Region has already agreed to re-run a full public consultation this summer which directly addresses issues around Chesterfield Borough Council and Derbyshire County Council’s membership, and the county council has been invited to engage in this process.

“It is also now four weeks since I made my offer to Councillor Lewis to meet with him to discuss the issue of Chesterfield joining the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority as a full member but he has not taken me up on this.

“This is disappointing because I’m sure residents and business leaders in both Chesterfield and Derbyshire would expect their council leaders to meet and discuss issues of such importance. My door remains open to Councillor Lewis.

“Chesterfield residents and businesses are, and will always be, part of Derbyshire. This is not, and never has been, in question.

“Devolution is about getting the best deal for Chesterfield and the best deal for Derbyshire.

“We are already seeing the benefits to Chesterfield and Derbyshire of being part of Sheffield City Region with £31.3 million of funding already allocated to the Markham Vale, Waterside, Northern Gateway and Peak Resort developments. These are projects creating and supporting thousands of jobs in Derbyshire.

“We are now looking to access a share of an additional £900 million of funding over the next 30 years that is only available through the one devolution deal on offer to Chesterfield and Derbyshire

“Devolution is a complex matter. We know from our conversations with local residents and businesses that once people understand the benefits and the fact that they will remain part of Derbyshire, the response we have received from them has been in favour of joining the Sheffield City Region devolution deal.

“There is no other possible devolution deal on offer for either Chesterfield Borough Council or Derbyshire County Council.”