DEVOLUTION: ‘It’s time we let out voices be heard’
The leader of Derbyshire County Council has made a last ditch plea for the people of Chesterfield to make their voice heard in the devolution debate. Anne Western says the decision on whether Chesterfield Borough Council joins up with nine other local authorities in the Sheffield City Region devolution deal is one of the biggest Derbyshire has ever faced.
She is worried that the deal is being rushed and not enough thought is going in to the implications of the plan on the way public services will be delivered in the future.
She said: “It is a shame that is has got to the stage that it has got to without the people of Chesterfield being able to understand what it really means. “The biggest feedback we are getting from people is ‘where has all this come from’, ‘why didn’t we know about it’ and ‘where is it taking us’. “These are the questions that people haven’t really got the answers to and when they go online and to the consultation events they are being told ‘it is just an economic deal’, ‘you don’t need to worry’ and ‘it is not involving other services’.
“Well, actually, it is and it will do more so in the future and we know that because the government and the Sheffield City Region are telling us that. Coun Western is worried that the public services which have been shaped over many years by the authorities within Derbyshire will be ‘fractured’ by the deal with South Yorkshire.
“So Sheffield City Region is going to have to invest an awful lot back into Chesterfield just to make up for the £900,000 that is going the other way in the first place.”
“I also learnt recently that a similar process is happening in the NHS with a proposal that Chesterfield Royal Hospital be included in the South Yorkshire set-up rather than Derbyshire.”
“It would then be one of five hospitals with A&Es in South Yorkshire and when they start to rationalise as they inevitably will because budgets are tight, I think Chesterfield Royal Hospital will be at risk.