William Eichler 11 August 2016

Consultation on town’s services ‘misleading and flawed’, says Derbyshire

Derbyshire has launched a legal challenge against the Sheffield City Region accusing it of attempting to take over services in its biggest town.

The Sheffield City Region Combined Authority - a group made up of Sheffield, Doncaster, Barnsley and Rotherham councils - is holding a public consultation which proposes putting some services in Chesterfield under the control of the combined authority’s mayor.

These services would include funding for maintenance and road safety, public transport, travel concessions, skills for employment and major planning and investment projects.

Derbyshire County Council is seeking permission from the High Court in London for a judicial review into what it describes as a ‘misleading and flawed’ consultation.

‘If these proposals go ahead, it will affect the people of Chesterfield and Derbyshire for generations to come and yet the consultation doesn't tell the full story or ask the right questions − so how can people give an informed view?’ Derbyshire’s leader Cllr Anne Western said.

‘We don't believe the proposals are in the best interests of anyone living in Derbyshire − least of all people living in Chesterfield.’

Cllr Western said if Chesterfield became a member of Sheffield City Region there would be a ‘huge financial cost’ to Derbyshire. This would result from the council having to make its services fit the new arrangements and from the loss of £1m in business rates from Markham Vale.

The county council launched its own online poll asking whether people wanted Chesterfield to become a full member of Sheffield City Region with a Sheffield City Region Mayor. Around 4,000 people voted and 92% said no.

‘The county council has a responsibility to act in the best interests of all its residents and we could not sit idly by and watch South Yorkshire break up Derbyshire without a proper consultation,’ said Cllr Western.

A spokesman for Sheffield City Region said: 'We are clearly disappointed that a legal challenge has been raised on our consultation process and we are currently taking legal advice.'

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