Sheffield City Region.
What does it mean for Rotherham?
It means if Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council wants a share of the £900million cash boost over the next thirty years to deliver major regeneration, infrastructure and business growth schemes it joins.
The SCR is comprised of the nine local authority areas of Barnsley, Bassetlaw, Bolsover, Chesterfield, Derbyshire Dales, Doncaster, North East Derbyshire, Rotherham and Sheffield. There will be an elected Mayor (Salary not yet decided but rumoured to be £100,00 pa).
In the proposed agreement, the elected mayor will be directly responsible for the transport budget, franchised bus services, key transport routes and strategic planning but will only cover South Yorkshire, not the whole region. Transport is a county function which means non-metropolitan districts in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire cannot join the transport deal.
The proposal would also allow for leaders to borrow against the £900m and attract private sector investment for major projects such as new transport connections. (Sounds much like PFI) The aim will be to invest in projects which will in turn bring investment, more jobs and growth to the economy. In turn it is hoped that will raise more business rates that the council can now retain to fund services.
Cllr.Read Leader of RMBC was initially against the idea of a Sheffield City Region Mayor, who would act as Chair of a Sheffield City Region Mayoral Combined Authority but he changed his mind. He said he had negotiated a deal which was worth living with one. Nobody knows what the deal is but he confirmed the administration costs to Rotherham would be in the region of £35k per year and could involve up to sixty staff and he referred to there being a Northern Powerhouse which could lead to improved infrastructure through this deal.
The SCR Mayor will have;
Responsibility for franchised bus services, which will support the Combined Authority’s delivery of smart and integrated ticketing across the Combined Authority’s constituent councils.
Responsibility for an identified Key Route Network of local authority roads that will be collaboratively managed and maintained at the city region level by the Combined Authority on behalf of the Mayor.
Powers over strategic planning, including the responsibility to create a spatial framework for the city region and to chair the Sheffield City Region Joint Assets.
To support the development of the SCR Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District, the Government will offer the Sheffield City Region expert advice and support to ensure they are able to put forward a City Region led proposal to undertake a Science and Innovation audit.
The Sheffield City Region will work with HM Government to achieve their ambitions for a national Institute for Infrastructure within Doncaster.
HM Government will work with the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority to agree specific funding flexibilities to a Spending Review timetable. The joint ambition will be to give Sheffield City Region Combined Authority a single pot to invest in its economic growth.
Further powers may be agreed over time and included in future legislation.
Q. ‘Will there be a formula to decide how the money is shared out across nine different local authorities or will it be on a ‘case by case’ basis?’
A. ‘Money available will be used so it has the biggest positive impact on the economy. Investments will be made in projects according to potential for economic growth and job creation, not where they are geographically’.
The creation of the Sheffield City Region could mean towns such as Rotherham, Doncaster,Chesterfield and Barnsley will have or need fewer councillors because of duplication and overlap between the combined authorities. It is reasonable to say Sheffield will take the lead role in most of the decision making and controlling the purse strings therefore our local towns will follow orders if they want a share of the money available.
It will not be presented in this way but as the region is to be named Sheffield City Region guess who plays Head Honcho?
Further reading: http://sheffieldcityregion.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/SCR-Devolution-Agreement-2015.pdf