Council to withdraw bid for SCR Constituent Membership

Bassetlaw District Council will be taking steps to formally withdraw its application for full constituent membership of the Sheffield City Region, with a report outlining the process due to be presented to the Council’s July Cabinet meeting.

Cllr Simon Greaves, Leader of Bassetlaw District Council said:

“When we started the process of applying for Constituent Membership of the City Region, I made it clear that this was because it was in Bassetlaw’s best interests. Devolution was a flagship Government policy, with the support of the Prime Minister and the patronage of the Chancellor and the Treasury. However, following the change of Prime Minister, Chancellor and Secretary of State for the DCLG last year Government priorities changed due to the outcome of the referendum. We now have a Government in disarray, a real coalition of chaos, a delayed Queen’s Speech and very difficult Brexit negotiations they need to crack on with. If policies like Devolution were on the backburner before, they’ll be pretty much extinguished now.

“In terms of the deal, the Government has made it clear that there is a need for Bassetlaw to accept London style planning powers for an elected Mayor. This was never in the deal that I signed up to, though I note that every deal that has now been made across the Country has seen a Mayor emerge with these powers. We are not London, and one of our key democratic functions in Bassetlaw is that local councillors are accountable to their communities for the planning decisions they make. This would not happen if an elected mayor was in position with a planning mandate in Bassetlaw and we won’t entertain it.

“In addition, London style planning powers would allow the Mayor to impose housing targets across the City Region which would include Bassetlaw. At every meeting I have attended, I have made it abundantly clear that nobody will dictate Bassetlaw’s housing numbers.

“Another emerging area of concern was proposals on National Non Domestic Rates. Although this could have resulted in additional monies for Bassetlaw at first, in the long term this could have seen monies raised in the District being transferred to Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield to support their unitary authority service pressures there. Again, this is something that we just cannot entertain.

“There has also been no movement on the proposed voting arrangements for the new Combined Authority. As a District we would be at a disadvantage, with one of the two votes that would have gone to Bassetlaw being made available to Nottinghamshire County Council. I challenged these arrangements at an early stage, and am disappointed that there has been no change – effectively leaving us with a weaker voice than the other constituent members of the Combined Authority.

“Devolution is now an opportunity missed, for all of Local Government, not just Bassetlaw but we have more important things to do now. We have ambitious plans for the growth of the local economy and I wait to see if the County Council and D2N2 match our level of ambition, or will the focus continue to be on Derby and Nottingham. There are real investment needs in North Nottinghamshire and the County Council has a role to play in ensuring they are met.

“The City Region Deal is no longer in the best interests of Bassetlaw and therefore I have asked the Chief Executive to prepare a report for Cabinet that will enable the Council to formally withdraw its application for full constituent membership of the Sheffield City Region”

Published: Tuesday 13 June 2017