Sheffield City Region bosses say they are still in negotiations over whether to accept a ‘metro mayor’ ahead of a deadline tomorrow.
The Local Enterprise Partnership says it will be “submitting an initial deal proposal” on Friday. But it is not a “yes” to a mayor, merely a starting point for negotiations over coming months.
That appears to contradict the Treasury which states city regions that want more powers and funding – in return for a mayor – need to submit ‘formal, fiscally-neutral proposals by September 4’.
The Government says it is ‘committed to building strong city regions led by elected mayors’.
Last month a LEP spokesman said they were “working towards a devolution deal with Government, although no final decisions have been taken.”
In July, LEP chiefs said a deal would only be accepted if it “did not disrupt private and public sector partnership arrangements” which are already in place.
It is understood they are reluctant to agree anything which could alter the existing LEP structure which includes a Combined Authority, representing the region’s nine councils. The authority, which has legal powers, is one of a few among the 39 LEP areas in England.
As part of his Spending Review, Chancellor George Osborne said he would not impose mayors but if the regions wanted to be part of the “new revolution in city government” they would need to have one.
In the Summer Budget he highlighted that an agreement had been reached with the leaders of the 10 councils of Greater Manchester to devolve further powers to the city and that talks were under way with Sheffield.
Sheffield City Region was the second area after Manchester to be granted a devolution deal, backed by £300m funding.
Sir Steve Houghton, chair of the Combined Authority, has insisted Sheffield City Region would be “central to the success of the Northern Powerhouse”.
But earlier this year he said a mayor was “not inevitable” and would only be accepted if a significant devolution deal was on offer.