'˜Flabbergasted' by devolution stance

The head of Sheffield Chamber has said he is 'flabbergasted' after the leaders of Barnsley and Doncaster councils said they would explore a whole Yorkshire devolution deal.

Monday, 16th January 2017, 4:10 pm
Updated Monday, 16th January 2017, 4:11 pm
Richard Wright, of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce Picture: Andrew Roe

Richard Wright called on Sir Steve Houghton and Ros Jones CBE to decide whether they were in or out of Sheffield City Region, which is set to received £900m and devolved powers in return for an elected mayor.

Their shock announcement came after elections scheduled for May 4 were postponed after a High Court ruling that a small part of a consultation process had been unlawful.

Mr Wright said: “I remain flabbergasted at the reactions over the past week. The political leaders of both Doncaster and Barnsley released statements which committed to the region - but clearly didn’t.

“It smacks of opportunistic politics and vote chasing, rather than making a decision and driving it through.

“This deal gives us a bit more money, but importantly gives us control of a lot of existing money and the forward commitment from Government allows us to borrow money to invest.

“Let’s get on with the consultation and the mayoral election as quickly as possible, you would think. After all it’s to the benefit of everybody in the region and we are at the vanguard of change to less centralised decision making.

“But that’s where we would be wrong because we haven’t factored in politics and parochialism!

“The fact is that it is politics that is driving the agenda. People who should be showing real leadership at times like this are constrained by political agendas and timetables.

“People couch what they say very carefully, rather than being open and saying what they really think or mean.

“Sometimes short term things can be difficult, but the right thing to do for the longer term and the people who will live here in the future. Good sustainable economic growth needs good economic decisions. I don’t feel we are getting that at the moment!”

Coun Houghton was unavailabe.