LETTER: Yes or no question on devolution is needed
As one of the county councillors for the Chesterfield area I have been following closely the plans for the Sheffield City Region.
I’ve also been listening to the views of many residents who are alarmed about the plans and who do not want to join Sheffield City Region.
When the borough council’s ‘Your Chesterfield’ magazine dropped through my letterbox recently I was hoping to read a balanced case for the claims Chesterfield Borough Council is making about the benefits of joining Sheffield City Region, but this was sadly missing.
In his introduction to ‘Your Chesterfield’ the council leader, Coun John Burrows, states the consultation which is now taking place is about whether Chesterfield should joinSheffield. In fact the Sheffield City Region consultation does not ask aboutChesterfield becoming a full member and, incredibly, there’s no opportunity for local people to answer a simple question and vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
‘Your Chesterfield’ magazine goes on to claim that all the councils which make up Sheffield City Region have “an equal seat at the table”.
I say this is not true. Sheffield, Barnsley, Rotherham, Doncaster and the elected mayor will all get two votes each but Chesterfield Borough Council will get just one. That’s not my definition of equal.
It is also claimed that Derbyshire County Council will still have responsibility for roads in Chesterfield. In fact, Sheffield City Region will take over major roads andpublic transport in the borough.
Although the magazine talks about a share of government money of £484 million, it doesn’t mention that Chesterfield’s share is unclear. Chesterfield is better off than most of South Yorkshire areas and it could be at the back of the queue for funding from Sheffield City Region.
It is important that everyone takes part in Sheffield City Region’s official consultation even though it doesn’t ask the question you really want to answer.
If you do want to answer a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ take part in our online poll which asks the simple questions Sheffield City Region is not asking Chesterfield people: ‘should Chesterfield become part of Sheffield City Region?’ and ‘do you think an elected Sheffield mayor should be able to make decisions about Chesterfield?’
You can find the poll at www.derbyshire.gov.uk/chesterfield.
Please don’t delay – there will be no public vote and the decision will be taken very soon. You need to make your voice heard by August 12.
Coun Dave Allen
Derbyshire County Council