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Agenda item

Notice of Motion given by Councillor Brian Webster

That this Council:

 

(a)       welcomes that a renewed debate around the UK's constitutional settlement, including the devolution of powers to regional and local authorities, is taking place following the seismic shock to the political establishment of the close-run Scottish referendum;

 

(b)       notes that in a ComRes poll published on 5th November, 82% of respondents supported greater devolution of powers over tax raising, education and policing to local areas, indicating overwhelming public support for substantial devolution;

 

(c)        believes that local and regional government are the proper home for many powers that are currently held at Westminster, and that these powers should be devolved to the local or regional bodies that are best placed to exercise them;

 

(d)       believes that local and regional government provides unique opportunities for public participation, transparency and accountability;

 

(e)       therefore believes that nothing should be done centrally if it can be done equally well, or better, locally;

 

(f)        however believes that the only way to ensure that devolution is effective and legitimate is to open up the process to public scrutiny and participation;

 

(g)       therefore notes with deep concern that 'devolution deals' for the Sheffield City Region and other areas of England are being rushed through without public input or democratic oversight;

 

(h)       calls upon the Administration to ensure that any ‘devolution deal’ that includes Sheffield is not struck behind closed doors, but is instead subject to input and scrutiny by the public and elected members from the earliest stage; and

 

(i)         calls upon the Government to establish a Constitutional Convention to consider the future constitutional structure of the United Kingdom and its constituent nations, regions, and local authorities, in an open and comprehensive way.

Minutes:

 

Devolution (2)

 

 

 

It was moved by Councillor Brian Webster, seconded by Councillor Jillian Creasy, that this Council:-

 

 

 

(a)       welcomes that a renewed debate around the UK's constitutional settlement, including the devolution of powers to regional and local authorities, is taking place following the seismic shock to the political establishment of the close-run Scottish referendum;

 

(b)       notes that in a ComRes poll published on 5th November, 82% of respondents supported greater devolution of powers over tax raising, education and policing to local areas, indicating overwhelming public support for substantial devolution;

 

(c)        believes that local and regional government are the proper home for many powers that are currently held at Westminster, and that these powers should be devolved to the local or regional bodies that are best placed to exercise them;

 

(d)       believes that local and regional government provides unique opportunities for public participation, transparency and accountability;

 

(e)       therefore believes that nothing should be done centrally if it can be done equally well, or better, locally;

 

(f)        however believes that the only way to ensure that devolution is effective and legitimate is to open up the process to public scrutiny and participation;

 

(g)       therefore notes with deep concern that 'devolution deals' for the Sheffield City Region and other areas of England are being rushed through without public input or democratic oversight;

 

(h)       calls upon the Administration to ensure that any ‘devolution deal’ that includes Sheffield is not struck behind closed doors, but is instead subject to input and scrutiny by the public and elected members from the earliest stage; and

 

(i)         calls upon the Government to establish a Constitutional Convention to consider the future constitutional structure of the United Kingdom and its constituent nations, regions, and local authorities, in an open and comprehensive way.

 

 

 

Whereupon, it was moved by Councillor Leigh Bramall, seconded by Councillor Steve Wilson, as an amendment, that the Motion now submitted be amended by the deletion of all the words after the words “That this Council” and the addition of the following words therefor:-

 

(a)       believes it should be a top priority to address the economic imbalance in the country and regrets that over the past four years the Government has failed on this issue and the inequality between London and the rest of the country has got worse not better;

 

(b)       regrets that the Government has drastically cut funding to local authorities in the north and the funding available for regional economic development, and believes this has contributed to making the situation worse not better;

 

(c)       welcomes that the Leader of the Council has played a strong role in developing the One North proposals which focus on city centre to city centre connectivity across the north of England;

 

(d)       believes that city centre connectivity is fundamental to the future of the City’s economy and strongly urges the Government to give Sheffield a city centre HS2 station;

 

(e)       regrets that yet again the Government has this week talked about announcements and feasibility studies to address the issue of trans-Pennine connectivity rather than taking action to address it; 

 

(f)        welcomes that Leaders of the Sheffield City Region have led with innovative proposals to secure greater economic powers for Sheffield City Region and calls upon the Government to meet the asks of Sheffield City Region;

 

(g)       notes that the composition of the Combined Authority is the democratically elected Leaders of the Councils and, as a supporter of democracy, accepts that ultimately the people of Sheffield City Region decide who the Leaders of their local authorities are;

 

(h)       believes that Sheffield City Region should be given the same level of powers as Manchester without having to adopt an imposed top-down governance model;

 

(i)        notes that the pace of the negotiations have been determined by the Government’s timetable; and

 

(j)         believes it is important that the Council takes a practical approach to securing power from Central Government and maintains that devolution will not lead to powers transferring from a local level upwards, only from Central Government down, which means that the Council is not giving powers away.

 

 

 

On being put to the vote, the amendment was carried.

 

 

 

(Note: Councillors Pauline Andrews and Jack Clarkson voted for paragraphs (a) to (c) and (e) to (j) and against paragraph (d) of the above amendment and asked for this to be recorded.)

 

 

 

It was then moved by Councillor Richard Shaw, seconded by Councillor Penny Baker, as an amendment, that the Motion now submitted be amended by the deletion of paragraphs (f) to (i) and the addition of new paragraphs (f) and (g) as follows:-

 

(f)        calls for the current Administration to back devolution of powers to Sheffield City Region; and

 

(g)       however, recognises that the domination of local authorities and combined authorities by any one party out of proportion to its share of the vote would inevitably weaken governance, and therefore calls for electoral reform in local government to prevent one-party fiefdoms.

 

 

 

On being put to the vote, the amendment was negatived.

 

 

 

The original Motion, as amended, was then put as a Substantive Motion in the following form and carried:-

 

 

 

RESOLVED: That this Council:-

 

 

 

(a)       believes it should be a top priority to address the economic imbalance in the country and regrets that over the past four years the Government has failed on this issue and the inequality between London and the rest of the country has got worse not better;

 

(b)       regrets that the Government has drastically cut funding to local authorities in the north and the funding available for regional economic development, and believes this has contributed to making the situation worse not better;

 

(c)       welcomes that the Leader of the Council has played a strong role in developing the One North proposals which focus on city centre to city centre connectivity across the north of England;

 

(d)       believes that city centre connectivity is fundamental to the future of the City’s economy and strongly urges the Government to give Sheffield a city centre HS2 station;

 

(e)       regrets that yet again the Government has this week talked about announcements and feasibility studies to address the issue of trans-Pennine connectivity rather than taking action to address it; 

 

(f)        welcomes that Leaders of the Sheffield City Region have led with innovative proposals to secure greater economic powers for Sheffield City Region and calls upon the Government to meet the asks of Sheffield City Region;

 

(g)       notes that the composition of the Combined Authority is the democratically elected Leaders of the Councils and, as a supporter of democracy, accepts that ultimately the people of Sheffield City Region decide who the Leaders of their local authorities are;

 

(h)       believes that Sheffield City Region should be given the same level of powers as Manchester without having to adopt an imposed top-down governance model;

 

(i)        notes that the pace of the negotiations have been determined by the Government’s timetable; and

 

(j)         believes it is important that the Council takes a practical approach to securing power from Central Government and maintains that devolution will not lead to powers transferring from a local level upwards, only from Central Government down, which means that the Council is not giving powers away.

 

 

 

(Notes: 1. Councillors Simon Clement-Jones, Richard Shaw, Rob Frost, Joe Otten, Colin Ross, Martin Smith, Penny Baker, Roger Davison, Diana Stimely, Sue Alston, Andrew Sangar, Cliff Woodcraft, Ian Auckland, Steve Ayris, Denise Reaney, David Baker and Vickie Priestley voted for paragraphs (d) and (h) and against Paragraphs (a) to (c) and (e) to (g), (i) and (j) of the Substantive Motion and asked for this to be recorded.

 

 

 

2. Councillors Jillian Creasy, Robert Murphy, Sarah Jane Smalley and Brian Webster voted for paragraphs (a), (b), (e) and (h) and abstained on paragraphs (c), (d), (f), (g), (i) and (j) of the Substantive Motion and asked for this to be recorded.

 

 

 

3. Councillors Pauline Andrews and Jack Clarkson voted for paragraphs (a) to (c) and (e) to (j) and against paragraph (d) of the Substantive Motion and asked for this to be recorded.)