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Sheffield devolution deal agreed

Words: Laura Edgar

Chancellor George Osborne has signed a devolution deal with Sheffield City Region.

Civic leaders from South Yorkshire will vote for a new, directly elected mayor as part of the deal in 2017.

The mayor will oversee a range of devolved powers, including responsibility over transport budgets and strategic planning. The deal follows submissions by 38 towns, cities, counties and regions to the government in September.

The government said the Sheffield City Region deal will enable the area to “strengthen its position as a world-class centre for advanced manufacturing and engineering”.

The deal requires the support of each local council in the city region and will now be subject to a programme of consultation and engagement with residents and businesses over the coming months.

Osborne said: “Sheffield is forging ahead in the Northern Powerhouse, which this historic deal proves is taking shape.

“It has the power to change the shape of local government in the region in a way that would have been unthinkable even just a few years ago. For local people, it will mean the decisions that affect them being taken locally.

“Manchester is not a one-off – far from it. In becoming the second great Northern city to sign up to managing its own affairs with this ambitious agreement, Sheffield City Region is playing a vital part in helping to build the Northern Powerhouse.”

Sir Stephen Houghton, chair of the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority, said the deal will enable local leaders to make bigger and better local decisions over skills, business growth and infrastructure.

Responding to the deal, Alexandra Jones, chief executive of think tank Centre for Cities, said that by introducing a mayor, leaders in Sheffield have ensured that the city, together with neighbouring areas including Doncaster, Barnsley, Rotherham, are well placed to receive more powers and funding from the government in the future.

“The announcement will increase the pressure on other big cities which are yet to agree a deal, and which risk falling further behind if they fail to do so before the government’s comprehensive spending review next month,” added Jones.

“Crucially, this deal for the Sheffield city-region, and previous agreements with Greater Manchester, will only go ahead if the government’s Cities and Local Government Bill is successfully passed through Parliament in the next few months. It’s vital that MPs from all parties support the bill, otherwise UK cities will miss out on the benefits and opportunities that devolution would offer.”

More information about the powers received can be found on the government website.