Devolution for Doncaster

The latest news about devolution and the potential impact for residents and businesses in the borough.

Doncaster votes for wider Yorkshire devolution deal 

Doncaster should be part of a wider Yorkshire devolution deal – according to the overwhelming majority in a community poll.

More than 45,000 Doncaster residents voted in the poll throughout December which directly asked whether voters would want the Mayor and Council to pursue a wider Yorkshire deal or a Sheffield City Region deal. More than 85 per cent of those who voted preferred a wider Yorkshire deal.

The Mayor of Doncaster, Ros Jones, announced the results at full council today. She added:

“This result has clearly shown that Doncaster people want a wider Yorkshire deal and that they identify with the county and want to be part of a larger regional devolution story,” she said.

“The overwhelming majority shows that this was important to both local residents and businesses, which have already told the Chamber of Commerce that they want to be part of a wider Yorkshire deal.

“More people in the borough now know more about devolution than ever before and the benefits it will bring. I will now, with the support of Council,  write to the Government and push ahead with our express wish to be part of a wider Yorkshire deal which we will champion strongly on behalf of Doncaster,”

The results are:

  • a) wider Yorkshire deal – 85.2% (38,551 votes)
  • b) Sheffield City Region deal – 14.8% (6,685 votes)

Results in detail

Voting results

Option Number of votes Percentage of valid vote 
a) wider Yorkshire 38,551 85.2%
b) Sheffield City Region 6,685 14.8%

Turnout and eligibility

Number of eligible voters 225,805
Turnout 20.1%

Vote detail

Total number of votes cast 45,470
Total number of valid votes to be counted 45,236
Votes cast by post 36,666
Votes cast online 8,804
Total number of votes found to be invalid 234
Blank 217
Spoilt (uncertain or voting for more than one option) 17

Previous updates

Local people have been asked for their views on Doncaster’s future devolution deal direction

A proposal to hold a community poll in December was discussed at an extraordinary meeting of Doncaster Council on Thursday November 9. It was agreed a poll would take place.

The Community Poll asked every voter in the borough to say which of the following devolution arrangements they would prefer to see Doncaster become part of:

Wider Yorkshire devolution

This is a partnership with the backing of at least 15 local authority areas. It’s a much larger model that places it alongside the likes of Greater Manchester City Region and the West Midlands. The region has 5.3 million residents living and working in a geographical area seven times larger than Greater London, with an economy worth £110 billion per year.

This option hopes to extend the benefits of devolution by pursuing a wider model with Yorkshire. It intends to give Yorkshire a louder and more powerful voice to lobby Government on behalf of our economy and people.

This proposal would be much larger than the Sheffield City Region proposal. It would mean greater powers transferred from Government, although the precise scope of these powers has yet to be determined.

The Elected Mayor would be on a par with the recently Elected Mayors of Greater Manchester or the West Midlands. The mayor would be able to delegate some decision making powers to a more local level.

Although the precise amount has to be confirmed this proposal is looking to unlock £3 billion over the next 30 years to spend in the region for

  • transport
  • infrastructure
  • training
  • skills
  • housing and regeneration

The 15 local authorities are:

  • Doncaster Council
  • Barnsley Council
  • Leeds City Council 
  • City of York Council 
  • Hull City Council 
  • City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council 
  • North Yorkshire County Council 
  • East Riding of Yorkshire Council 
  • Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council 
  • Kirklees Metropolitan Council 
  • Craven District Council 
  • Hambleton District Council 
  • Richmondshire District Council 
  • Scarborough Borough Council 
  • Selby District Council
This deal could be in place by 2020.

Sheffield City Region devolution

This is a partnership of nine local authority areas of which four – Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley and Doncaster – are full members.

This option will offer us £1.3 billion to spend over the next 30 years on jobs and businesses, as well as new powers and funding to improve infrastructure, transport, skills, housing and other drivers of business growth.

This proposal would involve giving certain powers over the following areas to an elected Mayor:

  • 19+ adult skills
  • employment support
  • housing and planning
  • transport
  • business growth and investment
  • infrastructure
The Government is looking to progress Sheffield City Region devolution, with an election for a city region mayor set for May 2018, although giving specific powers to the Mayor will require the further consent of Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley and Doncaster Councils.

The impetus for the poll came from recent developments in the topic of devolution in Yorkshire, with at least 15 councils saying they would support a wider deal – one of which is Doncaster. Doncaster has direct borders with North, West and East Yorkshire, as well as Barnsley and Rotherham. Barnsley Council has also indicated it would support a Yorkshire deal.

The community poll was a public consultation where people who are registered to vote were asked a proposed single question of which arrangement they would ultimately prefer Doncaster to part of.

The poll gives a clear view from local people. This poll follows a recent business community poll by the Doncaster Chamber of Commerce where 70 per cent of those who responded said they would prefer a county wide devolution deal. Other supporters of a wider Yorkshire deal include the CBI, Institute of Directors, the TUC and Doncaster’s three MPs.

Mayor Jones, who has clearly stated her own position on devolution believes would be a better deal for Doncaster, however she wants to hear local people’s view as to which path Doncaster should take. She said:

“I have made it plain that I personally believe a wider Yorkshire deal is the better solution for Doncaster, its people, communities and businesses however I want local people to have their say on what would be a generation changing decision on devolution. This is one of the biggest questions Doncaster has faced and I want the voice of local people to be heard. This is why council will be asked to support holding a community poll.”

For more about the community poll, you can read the council report detailing the proposal.

Questions and answers

Below are some questions and answers about the Community Poll, devolution and what these mean for Doncaster.

What is a Community Poll?

It is a public consultation in which people in an area are asked to give their opinion about an important question relating to the council and its services.

Why was there a community poll?

The views of local people are important to the Mayor of Doncaster and council around which devolution path they ultimately want to see delivered – a wider Yorkshire devolution deal or to continue with the devolution plan for the Sheffield City Region.

Why ask now?

Devolution is a pressing issue and one that has been in the news over the last few months. The Mayor and council want to support the best deal for Doncaster people, its communities and business. So to do this a community poll would be a single way to gauge opinion. Everyone who is registered to vote in the borough would have their opportunity to indicate which option they would prefer the Mayor and council to pursue if council agrees to hold a poll.

How was the community poll held?

Every person who is registered to vote was asked to indicate their preference by choosing one of the two devolution options. Voting papers were sent to the household of each registered voter and were asked to complete and return online or via freepost. There were no polling stations.

The question that the poll asked is:

“I would prefer Doncaster MBC to pursue a Devolution proposal with:-

(a) wider Yorkshire
(b) Sheffield City Region.”

Tick only one option

When was community poll held?

Every registered voter in Doncaster received a voting pack in the first week of December 2017. The pack gave people information about both options. Voting could be completed online or by post. Polls closed on 20 December. Results were announced on 21 December.

How much did this cost?

The Mayor and council wanted to keep the costs as low as possible which is why there was an option to return votes online, which was encouraged, and not via the post which the council pays postage for. The proposed poll is being overseen by the Electoral Reform Services (ERS). The council will earmark c.£120,000 from reserves to cover the cost of the poll including postage of the returned ballot papers. The more that are returned online via a secure site means the cost reduces.

Whilst this is was notable one-off cost, it represents a small proportion of Doncaster’s annual budget which is more than £450m, and was considered to be proportionate expenditure in order to gauge the views of local residents on this important issue.

What is devolution?

Government is offering places in England the chance to have more responsibility and control over decisions that affect their areas. It’s not about taking away powers from councils. This would mean that more decisions about spending on public services would be made here, rather than by the Government in London. It could also help to strengthen our economy and increase the number of jobs.

Why is devolution so important?

Getting the right devolution deal is a priority for Doncaster. There is an opportunity to consider if the Sheffield City Region deal is the best devolution arrangement to serve Doncaster, its people and businesses and its ambition well.

Since bringing forward proposals for devolution in the Sheffield City Region in 2015, a new proposal for wider Yorkshire devolution has emerged. This is being actively considered in the county and the council wants to explore if local people want Doncaster to be part of that or not. Now is the time to gather essential feedback and to identify a preference for one deal or another. The proposed community poll would give the Mayor and council the express wish of Doncaster people to support one deal.

What are the benefits of devolution for Doncaster?

Devolution will bring benefits to Doncaster in a number of key areas including more money invested in our area; better places to live, learn, work and do business; and better roads and public transport. Devolution will bring new powers and funding to Doncaster to improve infrastructure, transport, skills, housing and business growth. Working together with other local towns and cities, we can speak with one voice nationally and make better decisions about important economic growth.

Would the Mayor and council act on the proposed community poll result?

A community poll is not the same as an election and is not legally binding. However the outcome will be fully considered by the Mayor and council in determining next steps on devolution.

What has happened so far on the devolution issue?

The Sheffield City Region deal was signed by the four South Yorkshire Councils in 2015. Since then there have been significant developments. These include the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, and Chesterfield and Bassetlaw withdrawing from their plans to become full members of the Sheffield City Region.

Earlier this year, Yorkshire local authority leaders brought forward new proposals for a wider Yorkshire devolution deal. That movement has been supported by others, including the CBI, Institute of Directors, Trade Unions, MPs, and the Yorkshire Post.

The Doncaster Chamber of Commerce has held its own poll amongst local businesses and 70 percent of those who responded said they would support a Yorkshire-wide devolution deal.

The Mayor of Doncaster and the Leader of Barnsley Council have said they would support a wider Yorkshire deal. Sheffield City Council and Rotherham Council currently support the Sheffield City Region devolution deal.

Although the Sheffield City Region deal remains in place, there is still the potential for Doncaster to be part of a wider Yorkshire agreement moving forward. The Community Poll would establish whether residents want Doncaster Council to pursue this arrangement.

Will the Sheffield City Region mayoral election go ahead next May?

If nothing changes the Sheffield City Region mayoral election will elect a mayor in May 2018. However, the Government has not ruled out a Yorkshire devolution deal being implemented at some point in the future after the implementation of a SCR deal.

Devolution meetings and discussions

If you'd like to learn more about devolution in the South Yorkshire Combined Authority, please visit the South Yorkshire Combined Authority meetings page and search 'devolution'.

For discussions on devolution in the Leeds City Region, please read the minutes from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority meeting, 2 February 2017.

Last updated: 21 December 2017 14:38:27