LETTER: Open letter to Derbyshire County Council

Derbyshire County Council's Matlock HQ.
Derbyshire County Council's Matlock HQ.

Dear Mr Lewis,

We elect borough councillors in Chesterfield to investigate and run the town’s affairs, advised by professional advisers. Having done so, the councillors voted unanimously to join the Sheffield City Region as they believed it was the best way for Chesterfield to access devolution funding.

The county council was going to ask a simple yes/no question without providing balanced information, as well as spending council money doing so, when they announced plans for a referendum.

In fact, in my view the county council has provided unbalanced information, and was asking Chesterfield residents to vote on the basis of scare stories and one-sided information. 
The information on the county council website offered a link to find out why Chesterfield borough councillors voted to join the Sheffield City Region, but this does not link to any such information on the Chesterfield Borough Council website. It is not reasonable to expect the voters of Chesterfield to understand the complexities of the Sheffield City Region financial agreement on the basis of the information provided.

When the county council took Chesterfield Borough Council to court, I asked via a Freedom of Information Act request for the cost of this to the council taxpayer and was told that the cost was unknown. Presumably the cost of this action is now known so I repeat my request that this information be made available to me and to the public, and also the cost of the proposed referendum on the subject. Which services have been and are being reduced in order to pay for the legal action and the referendum?

If you wanted to hold a referendum it should have been incumbent on you to provide both the case for and against so people can reach a balanced view, based on facts, not speculation.

Ian Edmundson

Chesterfield