Barnsley and Doncaster councils may hold devolution 'referendum'

image sourceGeograph/JThomas/David Pickersgill/PA
image captionVoters in Barnsley and Doncaster may be given a vote on devolution proposals

A referendum could be held in a bid to decide the future of devolution in South Yorkshire.

Plans to hold a community poll have been announced by Barnsley and Doncaster councils.

Voters would be asked to choose between the government-backed Sheffield City Region deal or a proposed Yorkshire-wide deal.

The plans are to be discussed by the councils on 9 November and a poll, if approved, would take place in December.

Barnsley Council leader Sir Steve Houghton said while the result of the poll would not be legally binding, he wanted to give Barnsley residents an opportunity to have their say on "a generation-changing decision on devolution".

The announcement is the latest twist in South Yorkshire's ongoing devolution saga which began in 2015 when the-then Chancellor George Osborne signed an agreement with Sheffield City Region leaders, which includes Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield.

Under the deal a directly elected mayor, due to be elected in May 2018, will be given £900m over 30 years and handed power over transport budgets and strategic planning.

But, in August, the leaders of Doncaster and Barnsley signed up to a pan-Yorkshire proposal, initially backed by 17 of the 20 local authorities in Yorkshire.

Sheffield and Rotherham Councils have not given their support to the deal and the Department for Communities and Local Government says it is not prepared to consider any proposal that cuts across the Sheffield City Region deal.

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