A FRESH doubt has emerged over the South Yorkshire devolution deal in the shape of a legal threat from Derbyshire County Council, The Yorkshire Post can reveal.
Derbyshire County Council has confirmed it has consulted a senior lawyer over Chesterfield Council’s decision to become a full member of the South Yorkshire devolution deal.
It has also raised the prospect of challenging the decision in the courts through a judicial review.
The decision of Chesterfield last week to join what is properly known as the Sheffield City Region deal, negotiated by South Yorkshire councils last year, has angered Derbyshire which has put forward a separate devolution proposal in partnership with neighbouring Nottinghamshire.
A spokeswoman for Derbyshire County Council said: “We don’t consider making legal challenges lightly but we have a duty to act in the best interests of all Derbyshire’s residents.
“Chesterfield Borough Council’s decision to apply to become a full member of Sheffield City Region and to ratify their devolution deal could impact massively on local people in the longer term. It should have done an equality impact assessment at this stage to look at the potential impact of its decision on people protected by anti-discrimination legislation such as vulnerable and disadvantaged residents.
“We’ve asked the borough council to withdraw its decision while it assesses the full impact any changes to services will have on these residents.
“If the borough council refuses then we will consider whether or not to apply for a judicial review.”
In what would be a further dent in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire’s plans, Bassetlaw could follow Chesterfield in choosing to join the Sheffield City Region when councillors discuss the issue next week.
A Chesterfield Council spokesman said: “We have received letters from Derbyshire County Council raising legal issues with the council’s decision on 3 March to apply for full membership of the Sheffield City Region.
“We are currently taking advice on the issue.”
Sheffield City Council this week indicated its concerns over the Sheffield City Region deal had now been allayed and councillors will ratify it next week.
The deal includes the election of a new ‘metro-mayor’ for the area next year and it is not clear whether a legal challenge would pose a risk to the vote or other elements of the deal being implemented.