Why did Chris Read, Labour Group Leader sign us up to the hashed up devolution called the Sheffield City Region?Something dreamed up by a Tory government that has previously opposed and resisted every form of devolution unless forced into it?
Why’d he agree to the Tories pet love; Mayors? When he knows they’re used to put the boot into traditional Councillor based democratic structures.
Why agree to another tier of government, with its extra costs and removal of power from his own colleagues?
Why didn’t he demand a local referendum on the new organisation and Mayoralty, as in other changes to democratic structures?
Didn’t Tory history and commitment to cutting local government budgets raise a suspicion or two in his mind, when he was signing away yours and my rights to decide who determines Planning Policy and decision making, Economic development and Transport issues etc?
Did he ask what democratic mandate did he have do so?
Osborne and the Tory parliamentarians don’t like local government, care for it or even believe in it. What this proposal will do is allow them to blame Labour Councils for what are Tory cuts.
The democratic debacle shows that Labour Group management remains farcically humorous….and not even slightly a democratic socialist organisation.
Chris Read trumpets that the Labour Group is now so born again brilliant that they have been given back some powers lost due to their incompetence. Failing to say that several of the powers returned to them will soon be taken away, this time to be gifted to an elected Mayor. A Turkey volunteering his flock for Christmas, Chris?
So WHY did Read save Osborne’s face at the last Tory Annual Conference, by agreeing at the 11th hour to sign up to the Sheffield City Region and an elected mayor? Allowing Osbourne to announce his success to the Tory faithful.
One suggestion is a “sweetener” from Osbourne of £5m for the Council if Read signed up prior to the Conference.
Another is the £5m plus some powers given back to the Councillors. After all if Osborne didn’t give the powers back to the local Councillors, how could those Councillors gift them back to the new Mayor?
A more cynical add-on is the likely creation of a few gold plated seats at the new Super Region trough. And the chance for Read to get his failing political career back on track.
By this perverse power hand over and exchange (probably took place in a petrol station;) Read gets to say he has Rotherham Council back on track and he has turned the Council round.
Sidestepping the fact that for the few powers he gets back, some he is giving away permanently.
PS. My inside info is that Steve Houghton of Barnsley Council is the Mayoral candidate of choice for Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham Labour Groups… The anti “Sheffield getting it” candidate. You heard it here first.
And…..….ironically Steve organised the Labour Party to oppose creation of a Mayor for Barnsley when they were offered the chance.
PPS…How is Chris Read managing to balance what was his full time job with North Yorkshire Council as Conditions Officer for UNISON, with his role as Rotherham’s Labour and Council Leader? Has he changed his employment at North Yorks? Not according to his disclosure of interests. Maybe he’s cut his hours? And his salary?