Rotherham council leader "could compromise" over devolution deal

By Gareth Dennison | 17/01/2018

Rotherham council leader 'could compromise' over devolution deal

A DEVOLUTION deal edged closer as Rotherham Borough Council leader Chris Read indicated he would be willing to compromise.

An interim model allowing a two-year term to 2020 for the Sheffield City Region (SCR) deal has been suggested by Barnsley Council leader Sir Steve Houghton and Doncaster mayor Ros Jones.

This would have an unelected mayor from this summer — to avoid a £2 million election — and allow authorities wanting to pursue a wider Yorkshire deal to do so in two years.

Cllr Read (pictured), chairman of SCR, said: “An interim mayoral arrangement, on either an elected or unelected basis, that allowed South Yorkshire to draw down the funding and powers connected to the Sheffield City Region deal would be welcome.

“I would accept, subject to the usual democratic discussion, the broad outline of the proposal from the leader of Barnsley MBC and the mayor of Doncaster.

“I am relaxed about the possible length of a first mayoral term, but there would seen to be merit to giving consideration to a two-year term, bringing South Yorkshire into the same electoral timetable as other metro mayoral areas on 2020.”

The SCR deal — promising £900 million over 30 years — was agreed with then chancellor George Osborne in 2015.

The election of a mayor was delayed because of a legal challenge over consultation by Derbyshire Council.

And in the mean time, Doncaster and Barnsley decided to pursue the wider One Yorkshire devolution deal, covering the whole county, claiming it would bring more powers.

Cllr Read said: “My priority in all these discussions remains to deliver without further delay the benefits of devolution to the people of Rotherham that they have been promised for the last two years.

“Rotherham’s position remains that we believe the Sheffield City Region deal is our best opportunity to draw down funding and decision-making to strengthen our local economy.

“We have not yet seen any counter proposal which we believe would bring the same level of benefit to our borough.”

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