VIDEO: Chesterfield councillors vote to join with Sheffield in devolution deal
Chesterfield borough councillors voted unanimously last Thursday to become full '˜constituent' members of the Sheffield City Region combined authority.
In a special meeting of the full council witnessed by a packed public gallery, councillors were largely of one voice in expressing, sometimes with regret, the view that the Sheffield deal represented the best way forward for the borough.
This was despite the Council’s Chief Executive, Huw Bowen, receiving two letters earlier that day from the Chief Executive of Derbyshire County Council, asking Chesterfield to delay its decision.
An extensive consultation with the public and businesses will now take place before the decision goes before the Secretary of State for final ratification.
In an impassioned speech, council leader, John Burrows, said: “This is probably the biggest decision we will ever be involved in - it is certainly the biggest I have been involved in.
“There is still a lot of uncertainty that we cannot answer but if we wait until we have all the answers then we will miss out.
“I am not taking Chesterfield out of Derbyshire - that is not what we are about.
“This decision has been about what is going to be best for our economy and will most benefit our residents and businesses.
“I believe the people of the Borough will be best served by joining the Sheffield City Region deal and therefore recommend that members vote in line with the officers report.”
In response, Liberal Democrat group leader, Alexis Diouf, backed the Sheffield deal and said he thought people’s fears about the town losing out to its bigger neighbours were unfounded.
He also decried the ‘heavy handed’ tactics used by the county council and hoped that the relationship between the two authorities could be repaired in future.
If, after the consultation takes place, the Secretary of State is satisfied the arrangements would be beneficial, mayoral elections will take place in May next year.