THE official consultation about Chesterfield becoming a full member of Sheffield City Region started on 1st July. Time is running out for Chesterfield people to stay in Derbyshire. If the proposed land grab by Sheffield goes ahead it could have massive implications for you and your family.
It will affect the services you receive and the amount of council tax you pay.
It will mean that:
- Decisions about Chesterfield will be made by the Sheffield City Region Mayor and Combined Authority. Chesterfield Borough Council will be a junior partner in this arrangement, having only a single vote compared to the South Yorkshire councils and the Mayor, who get two votes each.
- The Mayor will charge you council tax to pay for the services he or she is responsible for, including public transport and skills. Do you want to pay for the Sheffield Supertram?
- This is the tip of the iceberg. The consultation doesn’t tell you about other services that Sheffield City Region are planning to take over, such as roads, schools, health and social care. We don’t know how far this will go. In Manchester the new Mayor will also be responsible for policing, so could we see South Yorkshire Police on patrol in Chesterfield?
- This will affect the whole of Derbyshire. Chesterfield’s closest neighbours, Bolsover and North East Derbyshire, don’t want to be full members of Sheffield City Region. They want to maintain the current relationships within Derbyshire. Chesterfield will be cutting itself off from its neighbours and jeopardising the viability of Derbyshire as an administrative county.
- Money is already flowing out of Derbyshire. In 2014 Chesterfield BC decided to give the new business rates coming from Markham Vale to Sheffield City Region. As Markham Vale continues to grow, this will ultimately be £900,000 per year. There are no guarantees that this money will be spent in Chesterfield. Indeed, it could be used to replace EU funding or to help communities facing steelworks closures in South Yorkshire.
All this has been planned with no public debate. It is not clear how the current services will be transferred to Sheffield City Region from Derbyshire, what this will mean for jobs and how much this will cost you, the council tax payer.
Leader of Derbyshire County Council, Councillor Anne Western, warns that there’s no easy way back if these radical proposals go ahead. She said “This is a huge decision which could affect Derbyshire’s largest town and beyond for generations to come. It could mean the end of Derbyshire as an administrative boundary.
“The final decision will be made by the Secretary of State so there is still time to save our county. We are urging residents in Chesterfield and the rest of Derbyshire to have their say to stop these proposals going ahead.”
Derbyshire County Council ran an online poll earlier this year asking whether or not people thought Chesterfield should join Sheffield. More than 2,500 people took part and 90% said no.
Labour’s Anne Western added: “The people who have responded so far are clear they don’t want Chesterfield to join Sheffield City Region so we’re calling for others to do the same.
Residents can find out more about what these plans mean for local people and information on how take part in the consultation here.