A 25-year vision for the future of Sheffield City Region has been proposed by a number of the city’s institutions, including the two universities and the NHS Foundation Trust. The report, published on Friday, encourages politicians, businesses, services and citizens to get behind the plan to maximise the city’s economic and social potential.
Here’s what it means for the city.
What is the Sheffield City Region?
The Sheffield City Region is made up of nine local authority areas in South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire. More than 1.8 million people live in the area which encompasses Sheffield and its bordering towns and spreads over Doncaster and Chesterfield and into the Peak District.
Does it have any power?
In 2014 the then Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced plans to create a Northern Powerhouse that could mirror the economic success of London. Mr Osborne’s vision was to bring Northern cities together to make them collectively strong, providing jobs, opportunities and security to those that live there. This proposal included plans to transfer some control over local spending from central government to regional councils.
As part of this programme Sheffield City Region made a bid to the government for more control over local spending. In October 2015, a devolution deal was agreed, making the Sheffield City Region the second northern city region after Manchester to be offered such powers.
What is the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority (SCRCA)?
The SCRCA is a statutory body established on the 1st of April 2014. Comprising of the council leaders from each area of the city region, the authority oversees economic development and transport issues.
The combined authority covers Barnsley, Bassetlaw, Chesterfield, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield. The council leaders of Bolsover, Northeast Derbyshire and the Derbyshire Dales are non-constituent members.
The devolution deal allows the SCRCA access to £30million a year over a 30-year period to boost growth in the region, meaning that they have increased control over where investments should be made.
What is the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP)?
Unlike the SCRCA, the LEP is made up of both private and public board members. Business leaders and local politicians have the role of advising on economic issues and promoting growth.
The Chair of the LEP attends SCRCA meetings on the partnerships behalf in order to feedback decisions and suggestions made by the Board.
Are we getting a mayor?
Yes. As part of the devolution agreement, the Sheffield City Region must have an elected mayor. They will be responsible for the transport budget and for the region’s strategic planning. They will also chair the meetings held by the SCRCA. It is not yet known when the vote will be, but it is expected to be next year.
The election has already been postponed once due to opposition from Chesterfield residents who claimed they were not properly informed about the deal. The High Court ruled that the election, which was due to take place this year, must be pushed back. However the government has since made it clear that an elected mayor will be necessary for the transfer of power.
So what vision does the new report set out?
A Better Future Together has been compiled by a number of Sheffield institutions including both universities and the NHS Foundation Trust who have been working with both the SCRCA and the LEP.
It sets out a vision of Sheffield’s future as an outward-looking city region, emphasising the importance of innovation, creativity, quality of life and environmental stewardship.
The report suggests six key areas that are critical to the achievement of the vision.
- Building an ambitious economy focused on innovation and enterprise.
- Providing support for businesses by striving for global excellence and maximising local impact.
- Joining up health and well-being to tackle health inequalities and provide good access to care and a reassuring flow of services.
- Transforming education by addressing low performance and retaining graduates from the regions universities.
- Promoting a regional green network by connecting green areas of the region and encouraging the use of outdoor spaces.
- Enhancing transport both internally and externally by improving rail links and reinforcing the importance of Doncaster Sheffield Airport.