LETTER: There are similarities between devolution and EU vote
While there are, of course, differences in scale, the arguments for and against Chesterfield becoming a full member of the Sheffield City Region (SCR) are not dissimilar to the arguments put forward during the EU referendum, I feel.
The SCR joiners are basing their case on the economic argument that Chesterfield, as a full member of SCR, will have an opportunity to access £900 million of funding devolved from central government over the next 30 years.
They tend to gloss over the fact that Chesterfield is not guaranteed to receive any of this funding and must compete for it against a powerful South Yorkshire group consisting of Sheffield, Doncaster, Rotherham and Barnsley.
The outers, on the other hand, are putting forward the argument that the loss of sovereignty and accountability from Derbyshire County Council and possibly, in the future, from Chesterfield Borough Council to an elected mayor in Sheffield far outweighs any possible benefits from an uncertain pot of funding.
Put simply, the electorate in the UK voted to leave the EU in part because it was felt that the authorities in Brussels did not understand and did not give a damn about the concerns of communities in the UK. In my view we face the same danger in Chesterfield if we join the SCR. The elected mayor in Sheffield may be forced, occasionally, to throw some crumbs Chesterfield’s way but, make no mistake, his or her priority will be to keep South Yorkshire sweet in my opinion.
So, are the people of Chesterfield going to be forced to replace a remote, uncaring and unrepresentative regime in Brussels for a similar one in Sheffield? Unfortunately, they will if, in my view, councillor Burrows and Chesterfield Borough Council get their way.