Legal cost of Yorkshire devolution deal challenge revealed

THE COURT challenge which delayed plans to elect a mayor for South Yorkshire has produced a legal bill of around £400,000.

The signing of the Sheffield City Region devolution deal in 2015

The Sheffield City Region Combined Authority is expecting its own costs to run to £180,000.

It will also be liable for 85 per cent of Derbyshire County Council’s costs, a sum likely to be around £200,000.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The combined authority has confirmed the delay to the election of a mayor will mean the area does not receive the first £30m of funding due under the Sheffield City Region devolution deal.

The deal was struck in 2015 and involved powers and money being transferred from the Government to the Sheffield City Region - covering South Yorkshire, Bassetlaw and Chesterfield - in return for the area electing a mayor.

Derbyshire challenged the inclusion of Chesterfield in the devolution deal, arguing the town’s residents had not been properly consulted.

The High Court agreed in a move which will force the combined authority, which brings the area’s councils together, to carry out a fresh consultation before the devolution deal, including the election of a new mayor, can go ahead.

Earlier this month, council leaders on the combined authority agreed to postpone the election for a year.

The delay has led to calls for the whole devolution process to be reviewed and for Yorkshire to seek a single devolution deal for the whole region.

Supporters of the Sheffield City Region have argued the election should happen sooner but a combined authority report ahead of a meeting next week confirms it is “working towards a mayoral election in May 2018”.

The report reveals discussions have been held with the Government over the consequences of the delay including for the £30m a year of extra funding included in the devolution deal.

It confirms that the money will not begin to flow until the legal order triggering the mayoral election is in place.

Council leaders will be told that the combined authority is now considering how to devise a consultation process that will satisfy the courts.

They will be warned the new consultation will involve further costs. Last year’s consultation on the devolution deal cost the authority £140,000.

Derbyshire County Council continues to oppose Chesterfield being part of the Sheffield City Region devolution deal.

It has pointed to its own consultation in Chesterfield which attracted 7,500 responses and saw 92 per cent say they did not want to be part of the Sheffield City Region.