LETTER: Devolution deal will bring economic boost

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What a furore there has been. The debate surrounding Chesterfield Borough Council’s application to remain within the Sheffield City Region enterprise partnership and seek full membership has similarities with the recent EU referendum in that punchlines and soundbites look to have won the day rather than detail.

Chesterfield Liberal Democrats support the council stance as we think it is the best interests of the residents of Chesterfield. In fact we saw the benefit of being part of the structure eight years ago. Whether we like it or not the only way to access new funding that will bring economic regeneration is by being part of such a deal – and there is no other body available to join.

There have been two periods of lengthy consultation, full explanations delivered to every household in the “Your Chesterfield” newsletter and a more recent leaflet.

Instead we feel people have been swayed by the relentless “Keep Chesterfield in Derbyshire” mantra being pedalled.

In our view this whole campaign of fear by Derbyshire County Council (DCC) has been all about self-interest rather than the truth.

At a time when DCC has slashed spending, it has decided to seek a very expensive judicial review in order to take the “red on red” infighting to a new level. Derbyshire and Chesterfield residents deserve better than to be the jam in a Labour argument sandwich.

Not to be out-done, the local Conservatives cry out for a referendum. Why not use that same energy to lobby their own Government that imposed such deals, including the unpopular imposition of elected mayors, on local authorities?

Liberal Democrats can assure you that:

Chesterfield is going nowhere and will always be part of Derbyshire.

Chesterfield’s civic mayor is here to stay.

We oppose the imposition of the mayoral role within the economic body but feel that there are enough checks and balances in place to ensure nothing that is not beneficial can be introduced.

Sheffield City Region will play no part in all of our emergency services such as police, fire and ambulance.

Chesterfield Borough Council will maintain its own existing services and autonomy.

Despite incessant scaremongering schools, social care and health are not affected by the proposed deal.

We would never agree to any proposal that would be to the detriment of the town and strongly believe that our local economy would suffer if we were to turn our back on a structure that has been the platform for millions of pounds of funding to date and will continue to support the well structured bids in the future.

Chesterfield Liberal Democrats will continue to work to bring economic progress and stability through partnership rather than the verbal destructive warfare that has been a stain on the local political scene in our view.

Alexis Diouf

Leader,

Chesterfield Liberal Democrats