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.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Devolution on the Wane?

The devolution agreement for the Sheffield City Region was first broken to the public, essentially as a done deal, in October 2015. At that point I wrote about it on this page.

It was hailed by many local politicians as a positive proposal that would return real power to the region and a benefit to the economy. The detail of the deal suggested otherwise to me and I made that clear. Despite local apathy and or concern over the deal it then began a lethargic progress through the decision making chambers of the the various Councils and the City Region itself.

Over 12 months later and after a couple of poorly received 'consultations' we are now into a period of wait and see. Wait and see whether the Derbyshire County Council legal challenge can derail the process. Wait and see whether the continuing failure of new deals to fall into line make this deal a less attractive option for the Region.

Since this challenge was launched in August, three other devolution deals have fallen by the wayside and others have failed to materialise.

In September four out of seven North East Councils voted down the deal they were offered and currently there is no new deal on the table or expected. The stumbling block here was Brexit and a lack of guarantees from Government on the loss of EU funding.

In November both the Greater Lincolnshire devolution deal and the Norfolk / Suffolk devolution deals came off the rails. In Greater Lincolnshire's case it was the imposed elected Mayor that caused the deal to fail. The deal was voted against in the County Council by 43 to 17. Without the elected Mayor there is no deal.

The Norfolk / Suffolk deal was stopped by a single Council, King's Lynn & West Norfolk, voting overwhelmingly against the deal and, as a result the Norfolk County Council never voted on the deal. Suffolk meantime may be offered a solo deal but that appears to be more like extra powers for the County rather than the devolution deals we have been told are vital to Regional powerhouses.

Other deals are simply failing to progress, at least as far as the public are concerned. The West Yorkshire deal, based around Leeds, has not been mentioned on their web site 'news' since August. York & North Yorkshire's deal appears to have barely moved since March.

It seems, to me, clear that this format of imposed devolution, requiring strong, elected mayors, and forced to accept a level of devolved austerity is failing to inspire the majority of politicians at the local level. It is also, largely, a mystery to the general public. They have not been involved in any of the ideas behind the move and therefore seem to care little for the outcome. It will, for most people, appear to be yet another level of bureaucracy squandering the taxpayer's money.

Will politicians listen to this grumbling groundswell against imposed solutions to local problems? .......Probably not.

1 comment:

  1. Devolution's a great, essential, idea, being delivered with astonishing ineptitude by this government (even by its own low standards) https://www.greenparty.org.uk/leaders-blog/2015/11/16/what-can-devolution-do-the-cresc-annual-lecture-in-manchester,-november/