Business to ‘step up’ after devolution dies in Sheffield City Region

Sir Nigel Knowles, Chairman of the sheffield City Region LEP, pictured.  Picture: Marie Caley NSST McLaren MC 7
Sir Nigel Knowles, Chairman of the sheffield City Region LEP, pictured. Picture: Marie Caley NSST McLaren MC 7

Business leaders will ‘step up’ and fight harder to boost Sheffield City Region’s economy after the collapse of its £900m devolution deal.

Sir Nigel Knowles, chair of the Local Enterprise Partnership, said the failure was “incredible” but they would not “sit around feeling sorry for ourselves.”

He added: “If there is a positive from this, it’s that it’s made us more determined to step up and support our region with more vigour and enthusiasm.

“We will galvanise ourselves to do a better job to stay in this position sa a very attractive place to do business.”

Sir Nigel also said he would approach his contacts in government for new funding including business secretary Greg Clark, communities secretary Sajid Javid and northern powerhouse minister Jake Berry.

The LEP is comprised of private sector business leaders who steer the region’s economic development. It is set to announce five newcomers from 21 who applied.

The region is still reeling after Barnsley and Doncaster pulled out of a deal set to bring £900m of funding over 30 years, new powers and a ‘metro mayor’.

At £21.70 per head, it was the second highest amount of nine across the country.

Sir Nigel said the South Yorkshire councils had been “euphoric” when they signed up in October 2015. And he didn’t understand the reasons given by Barnsley and Doncaster for backing out - to pursue a Yorkshire-wide deal.

He added: “Why would Sheffield City Region pass on this opportunity to shed its reputation from the 1970s and build on a solid foundation? We can’t afford to do anything that impairs that reputation.

“And we all still have to work together.”

Sir Nigel hailed Boeing and McLaren’s plans to build factories, the Olympic Legacy Park in Sheffield and Doncaster Sheffield Airport, as well as 37,000 new private sector jobs since 2014.

He added: “I will say to anyone who is prepared to listen that DSA should be a as big as Manchester in the next 25 years, it has so much potential.”

Sheffield is hosting the Horasis international business conference in November, set to attract 300 leaders from around the world.

He added: “The region can be a winner and we will continue working hard for it.”

The Government has said a ‘metro mayor’ will still be elected in May 2018 - at a cost of £1m - because the councils signed up and legislation has been passed. But he or she will have few powers.