Magazine article Public Finance

South Yorkshire City Region Backed by Betts

Magazine article Public Finance

South Yorkshire City Region Backed by Betts

Article excerpt

Plans to create two new combined authorities in England are likely to form a 'template' for further local government reforms across the country, the chair of the Commons local government select committee has said.

Clive Betts told Public Finance that plans revealed in August for combined authorities in both South Yorkshire and Merseyside faced a number of challenges, but could act as a basis for greater collaboration in other city regions.

A proposal for a single authority to take responsibility for transport and economic development across six councils in the Liverpool city region stated the scheme would improve the effectiveness of business support.

South Yorkshire's combined authority, which will bring together nine councils, is also intended to boost economic growth. Welcoming the publication of the plan, Sir Stephen Houghton, leader of Barnsley Council and chair of the shadow authority, said the move 'puts the Sheffield City Region ahead of the game compared with other areas of England'.

Betts, who represents the Sheffield South East constituency, told PFthe reforms could replicate the success of the existing combined authority in Greater Manchester.

'We did a select committee report on regeneration a couple of years ago, and went to Greater Manchester and flagged up the excellent work we thought they were doing in this regard. I think the committee was impressed at that time and saw it as a way forward for others, which indeed it has now become.'

He said the creation of combined authorities was an important step in helping 'shape the governmental arrangements to fit the economy, rather than the other way around'.

The development of the South Yorkshire authority was particularly important as it established the principle that councils from outside the 'settled' boundaries of the old metropolitan counties could join combined authorities, he said.

Under the plan, one council from Nottinghamshire - Bassetlaw - and four from Derbyshire - Bolsover, Chesterfield, Derbyshire Dales and North East Derbyshire - will be combined authority members.

Such changes to traditional boundaries make it 'a possible template' for authorities based around other cities, Betts added. Similar proposals are also being developed for the Northeast and West Yorkshire. …

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