Derbyshire CC has said the public are being ‘hoodwinked’ over a consultation on plans to put a Sheffield mayor in charge of transport and other services in Chesterfield, in the latest twist in a long-running tug-of-war.
The council claimed the consultation launched this month by Sheffield City Region Combined Authority is so ‘misleading and flawed’ that it should be withdrawn and has written to the combined authority to say so.
Derbyshire CC leader Anne Western
Although Chesterfield is in Derbyshire and does not share a border with Sheffield City Region, the borough council plans to join the devolution bid based on the Yorkshire city.
This would require Derbyshire CC to hand over responsibility for running many services in the town, including major roads, funding for maintenance and road safety on all roads, public transport, travel concessions and major planning and investment projects.
The county council argued that consultation documents ‘do not tell the full story’ and ‘do not ask the key question whether or not people think Chesterfield should become a full member of Sheffield City Region’.
Derbyshire council leader Anne Western said: ‘Local people feel hoodwinked. The question they really want to answer isn’t included in the consultation and it’s essential that Derbyshire residents get a full chance to have their say in order for the consultation to be both legal and fair.
‘People are being asked how the proposals should work when the fundamental question is really ‘do you think these plans should go ahead at all?’
She added: ‘It will mean huge changes to key services in Chesterfield such as public transport, major roads and funding to maintain all roads in the borough. And it may not end there – more powers over Chesterfield services could be handed to the Sheffield mayor and combined authority in the future.’
The county council claimed the whole of Derbyshire would be worse off if Chesterfield joined the Sheffield combined authority and said the town ‘could be at the back of the queue for money’ from the city region.
It also argued that the move would be ‘a leap in the dark’ as no other council in the country has joined forces with a combined authority outside its county border.
Transport Network approached Sheffield City Region for comment.