Chesterfield backs out of Sheffield City Region deal

Chesterfield has sensationally backed out of Sheffield City Region devolution plans.

The borough’s council leader Tricia Gilby said the council was pulling out of the devolution bid to avoid an unnecessary waste of public money being spent on a referendum.

“The referendum plans by Councillor Lewis are completely unjustified, especially when Derbyshire County Council admits itself it still needs to find £80 million to balance its books due to Tory austerity.

“To avoid this happening I have put a stop to Chesterfield Borough Council’s application to become a full member of Sheffield City Region Combined Authority,” Cllr Gilby said.

Initially Derbyshire County Council leader Cllr Barry Lewis had proposed a referendum on being part of the devolved area. They announced a postal referendum on the plans last week.

Chesterfield Borough Council decided last year to apply to become a full member of the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority so it could benefit from the devolution deal.

The deal would have seen extra powers come to the region which are currently controlled by Westminster and an extra £900 million of funding over the next 30 years.

The deal was postponed last year after a legal ruling said Chesterfield residents had not properly been consulted on the town’s inclusion in the deal.

Reacting to the news, Derbyshire County Council’s Cllr Lewis backed the decision.

“This is absolutely the right decision by Chesterfield Borough Council and a victory for common sense,” he said.

“Obviously we would rather not have to spend tax-payers’ money on holding a referendum. But with so many people clearly not in favour of Chesterfield joining Sheffield City Region it was only fair and proper that residents were given the chance to have their say and give a clear indication of what they wanted for the future of their town and borough.”

Leader of the Yorkshire Party Stewart Arnold, who supports a Yorkshire Parliament, also supports the move.

“Chesterfield’s decision to withdraw from this sham devolution deal is long overdue. The ‘Sheffield City Region’ will do nothing to help Yorkshire’s economy grow, our schools improve, or our infrastructure better cope with the demands placed on it,” he said.