Councillors in Chesterfield are now being asked to take a fresh decision in favour of joining Sheffield City Region Combined Authority (SCR CA), following a rapidly executed equalities impact assessment.
In response Derbyshire CC, which previously threatened legal action, has hinted it may do so again.
Chesterfield’s attempts to join the Sheffield city region, which it does not share a border with, have been strongly opposed by the county council, which would lose control of transport and other powers in the borough.
After a decision earlier this month to join the Sheffield devolution bid as a full member, the borough received a formal allegation from Derbyshire, that it had failed both to comply with its public sector equality duty and to ‘keep an open mind with respect to its duty to consult the public under the combined authority legislation’.
Cllr Anne Western is leader of Derbyshire Council
In the light of the equalities assessmen, Chesterfield councillors will be recommended to rescind their earlier decision at a council meeting next week, then make a new decision to the same effect.
The equalities assessment found that it was ‘difficult to assess specific impacts on protected groups’ of joining either the SCR CA or the proposed North Midlands devolution bid, which covers Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, but that both could have negative and positive impacts.
Papers for the meeting include responses to the assessment from Barnsley Council, which called it ‘a thorough and substantial piece of work’, and Derbyshire, whose chief executive wrote that the late production of the document meant he did not ‘have time to do justice to the issues involved’.
He said Derbyshire would ‘reserve our position’ as to whether the borough has now met its public sector equality duty.