Sheffield City Region mayor election delayed

MOMENTUM was growing behind plans for a Yorkshire mayor today after the postponement of elections for a Sheffield City Region mayor.

Barnsley Council leader Sir Steve Houghton, then chancellor George Osborne and Sheffield Council leader Julie Dore at the signing of the draft devolution deal in 2015

Barnsley and Doncaster councils and West Yorkshire’s five authorities declared they were ready to consider a plan to shift power from Whitehall to Yorkshire through a devolution plan revealed by The Yorkshire Post this week.

The proposal would see the creation of an elected mayor for the whole of Yorkshire working with the existing combined authorities made up of council leaders in West and South Yorkshire and the creation of a third.

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The public declarations of interest in the idea came after it was confirmed the planned election of a Sheffield City Region mayor in May will be postponed.

The decision follows a legal ruling before Christmas that Chesterfield residents had not been properly consulted on the town’s inclusion in the devolution agreement which is supposed lead to the creation of the Sheffield City Region mayor.

Council leaders agreed a draft devolution deal with then chancellor George Osborne in October 2015 to transfer key powers from Whitehall to the Sheffield City Region area covering South Yorkshire, Chesterfield and Bassetlaw.

A condition of the deal was the creation of a new regional mayor, to be elected in May this year, to be held accountable for the use of the new powers in areas such as transport and skills.

A Sheffield City Region Combined Authority statement today acknowleged it was “not possible” to hold the election this May and the authority is “working towards a mayoral election in May 2018”.

But two Sheffield City Region Combined Authority members, Barnsley and Doncaster, declared they were ready to “explore” the Yorkshire-wide proposal.

And in a joint statement, the leaders of West Yorkshire’s five councils said that in the light of the lack of progress on their preferred “Leeds City Region” option, they would look at alternatives.

“A Yorkshire deal underpinned by the existing combined authorities is one of these options that could unlock our Leeds City Region deal, along with those of our colleagues in Sheffield City Region, and the North and East of Yorkshire,” they said.

The Sheffield City Region is so far the only part of the region to successfully negotiate a devolution deal with the Government amid disagreement among council leaders and MPs elsewhere over the areas which any agreements should cover.

Business leaders in Yorkshire have expressed concern the region could fall behind other parts of the country which have agreed devolution deals and will elect mayors in May.

Greater Manchester, Tees Valley and the Liverpool City Region are among the areas preparing to hold elections.