LETTER: Chesterfield will be a ‘poor relation’

I am horrified and appalled (as many others must be) by what I feel is a ludicrous proposal that Chesterfield Borough Council should join forces with Sheffield and the rest of the South Yorkshire consortium.

In my view this is removing Chesterfield from Derbyshire and handing it over to a neighbouring authority in an entirely separate county. 
If, as I suspect, Chesterfield hopes to attract some of the billions of pounds being poured into Sheffield by the Chinese then I fear it will be sadly disappointed. I believe Chesterfield will become the ‘poor relation’ of a South Yorkshire conurbation and will have sacrificed 1,000 years of history as an administrative county in England for what? For nothing in my view.

With the exception of the Local Government Reorganisation Act of 1974, which, among other things, created the county of Avon, and allowed South Yorkshire to take in large swathes of what until then had been North Derbyshire, I cannot readily recall any other changes to Derbyshire’s boundaries since it was first formed (along with Warwickshire, Leicestershire and Staffordshire) as a division of the Kingdom of Mercia in the mid-to-late 10th century.

My late father, Derek James Billinge (1926 - 1993), was for several years a Chesterfield borough councillor. He would be turning in his grave if he were aware of this hare-brained scheme to abandon the heritage of Derbyshire in the vain hope of a pot of gold from Sheffield.

Moreover, as with the 1974 Act I have referred to, I strongly suspect that it would require primary legislation to adjust county boundaries in England – not simply the agreement of a group of councillors in Chesterfield. I remind those councillors of the wise words of Saint Thomas More, who said: “When statesmen (in this case, councillors) forsake their private conscience for their public office, they lead their country (in this case, county) down a short route to chaos.”

Richard M. Billinge

Heworth Village, York