About This Blog

The public should know all we can about the business of the decision makers that affect our lives, our wallets and our democracy. This is a record of my efforts to try and improve the levels of transparency and accountability within Sheffield City Council and others. To shine a light on how decisions are made and where the money goes. If I can also help others to find their own voice and influence along the way, then that is a bonus.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Raining on the Devolution Parade?

October's Now Then Magazine has an article from me that is a brief review of where we are on the devolution process for Sheffield City Region .

A week however, as they say, is a long time in politics and although the end of the process is in sight, the uncertainty is getting worse. Since I wrote the article, there have been developments. The City Region Combined Authority met on September 12th and item was to receive the report on the last consultation about regional governance and an update on the rest of the process. Minutes of that item are here. A link to the summary and the detail of the consultation is at the bottom of those minutes.

The main thing to note for me is that the City Region has a population in excess of 1.8 Million, whilst the public responses to the consultation amounted to 2,719. That equates to 1 in 660 people responding or 0.0015%. The response for Sheffield itself was 292. That's around 1 in 2,000 people that live in the city or 0.0005%. Putting this another way, incredibly poor engagement and understanding by the public.

Despite concerns being expressed, at the meeting, over this appalling response rate, the outcome was as expected. The meeting agreed to forward all the relevant papers to the Secretary of State, so he can prepare the draft order to be placed before Parliament. It is this order that will give legitimacy to the changes in both geography, including Bassetlaw & Chesterfield as constituent councils, and implementing the change to a Mayoral Combined Authority. In the meantime the Officers of the Authority will continue to try and get clarification on Theresa May's recent comments about devolutionary Mayors and the impact of the legal proceedings undertaken by Derbyshire County Council.

That draft order should arrive back on SCRA desks in time for it to be considered at the meeting on the 24th October. If that meeting agrees, the order will then go before Parliament for a vote as soon thereafter as possible, probably by mid November. Only then will the Electoral Commission begin work on the Mayoral election process, which should be finalised around the New Year.

The election of the Mayor will then take place in May of 2017.

As I point out in the article for Now Then, however, there are still questions to be answered about Chesterfield's status and, yet again, about which of these processes, Parliamentary vote or legal dispute, will take precedence overall. This devolution deal could still sink without trace, expect more on this in the next month.

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