Council steer away from ‘coalition of chaos’ by scrapping £900m Bassetlaw devolution deal

Simon Greaves, leader of Bassetlaw District Council.
Simon Greaves, leader of Bassetlaw District Council.

Plans for a Bassetlaw devolution deal worth £900m have been axed by Council bosses who say the move is no longer in the district’s “best interests”.

Bassetlaw District Council is scrapping its application to join the Sheffield City Region combined authority to avoid handing “London-style planning powers” to an elected mayor.

Leader of the authority, councillor Simon Greaves, fears Bassetlaw would be neglected should it enter a devolution deal due to discord in Westminster following the General Election.

He said: “We now have a Government in disarray, a real coalition of chaos, a delayed Queen’s Speech and very difficult Brexit negotiations they need to crack on with.

“If policies like devolution were on the backburner before, they’ll be pretty much extinguished now.”

He went on: “The Government has made it clear that there is a need for Bassetlaw to accept London style planning powers for an elected mayor.

“This was never in the deal that I signed up to, though I note that every deal that has now been made across the country has seen a mayor emerge with these powers.

“We are not London, and one of our key democratic functions in Bassetlaw is that councillors are accountable to their communities for the planning decisions they make.

“This would not happen if an elected mayor was in position with a planning mandate in Bassetlaw, and we won’t entertain it.”

It comes after authorities in Derbyshire u-turned on the deal to avoid an “uncessary waste of public money.”

Bassetlaw District Council originally lodged an application with the Sheffield City Region in 2016 after councillors voted in favour of the deal.

It was claimed the move would bring in a share of £900m in funding and increased job opportunities.

But the plans came under fire from Nottinghamshire County Council Conservative Group, who were concerned a devolution deal would see town like Worksop and Retford “losing out” and being overshadowed by urban areas.