Elections for a Sheffield City Region mayor have been dramatically cancelled, throwing the £900m devolution deal into chaos.
Leaders decided there was not enough time to re-run part of a consultation exercise ruled unlawful ahead of the public going to the polls on May 4.
The decision casts doubt on the region’s devolution deal for extra powers and £900m funding in return for an elected regional mayor. The Government has always said it is ‘no mayor no deal’.
Mayor of Doncaster Ros Jones and Barnsley leader sir Steve Houghton said they would now explore a ‘whole Yorkshire’ devolution deal following an approach by West Yorkshire.
They added: “Following the recent judicial review it is clear that further consultation work is required. Sheffield City Region has also received an outline proposal from West Yorkshire for a whole Yorkshire devolution option.
“We will work to explore this new option to ensure we give all solutions proper consideration.”
Sheffield City Region includes the four South Yorkshire councils as well as Chesterfield, Bassetlaw, Derbyshire Dales, North East Derbyshire and Bolsover.
A spokesman for the Combined Authority said: “Local leaders have now had an opportunity to consider the High Court judgement and its implications on the Sheffield City Region’s devolution deal.
“On the advice of the Combined Authority’s managing director and legal officer it is now not possible to hold a mayoral election in May 2017. The authority is now working towards an election in May 2018.
“To this end, we are drawing up fresh plans to consult on its proposals with a view to satisfying the requirements of the court judgement.”
The crisis was triggered after Derbyshire County Council objected to Chesterfield’s application to become a full member of Sheffield City Region. It lodged a judicial review, and in December a judge ruled consultation on the move had been ‘misleading’.