Austin Macauley 23 March 2016

Threat of legal action forces Chesterfield into devo rethink

Chesterfield Borough Council is to review its move to become part of the Sheffield City-Region in a bid to avoid ‘money being wasted on an unnecessary legal challenge’.

The local authority said it had been threatened with a legal challenge by Derbyshire County Council after it opted to be part of the agreed Sheffield devolution deal rather than join proposals for a North Midlands deal.

The county council said the basis of Chesterfield’s decision should have included an equality impact assessment. However, Chesterfield argued it had followed the similar procedures to other district and borough councils in Derbyshire and that none of the authorities – including the county council – had published a full equality impact assessment.

Chesterfield will decide which deal to opt for at a meeting on April 6 when members will be presented with a revised report by officers.

Councillor John Burrows, leader of Chesterfield Borough Council, said: ‘The only people who benefit from judicial reviews are the barristers presenting the cases.

‘We could have opposed this legal challenge but that would have cost Derbyshire’s taxpayers a lot of money and wasted a huge amount of time and effort.

‘So we have decided to look afresh at our March 3 decision but this time taking into account the full Equality Impact Assessment that we have now developed and other developments that have happened since the original decision was taken, including the decisions taken by other councils across Derbyshire.

‘The council will then make a fresh decision on what delivers the best outcomes for both Chesterfield and Derbyshire’s residents and businesses. This will then go to public consultation before the Government makes a final decision.’

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