The Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield Combined Authority (the SCRCA) was established pursuant to the Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield Combined Authority Order 2014 (SI 2014/863) (the Order). To date there have been no subsequent amendment orders; however, consultation is ongoing in relation to a "Devolution Deal" which would extend the geographical boundary of SCRCA, attribute additional powers to SCRCA, and confer powers to the mayor.
SCRCA is made up of the four following authorities: Sheffield City Council, Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council and Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council (the Constituent Councils). There are also four non-constituent councils: Chesterfield Borough Council, Bolsover District Council, Derbyshire Dales District Council, North East Derbyshire District Council (Article 2 of the Order).
At present there is no mayor. The first mayor is due to be elected on 3 May 2018, under the Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield Combined Authority (Election of Mayor) (Amendment) Order 2017 (SI 2017/432).
SCRCA's functions primarily relate to transport, economic development and regeneration, and budgetary and governance arrangements.
The Order abolishes the South Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority (the SYITA) and transfers its functions, property, rights and liabilities to SCRCA (Article 6 of the Order). These functions are broad ranging but generally relate to local transport provision and charges for these services, as found within previous legislation.
By virtue of this transfer of functions, SCRCA is required to produce a local transport plan under s108(3) Local Transport Act 2000. It also has powers relating to:
- various ticketing and travel schemes (under the Transport Acts 1985 and 2000)
- disposal, acquisition and development of any land (under section 10(1) of the Transport Act 1968)
- bus passenger transport services (under section 10 of the Transport Act 1985).
The Order makes the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (the SYPTE) the executive body of SCRCA for the purposes of its transport functions (Article 8). SCRCA has certain reserved powers over SYPTE for high level decisions, including the SYPTE's ability to borrow and lend money (under section 12 of the Transport Act 1968).
The Order gives planning functions to SCRCA, including the responsibility to produce a local transport plan (under section 108(3) of the Transport Act 2000) and a sustainable community strategy (under section 4 of the Local Government Act 2000).
SCRCA has a duty under section 8(1) of the Housing Act 1985 to consider housing conditions in its area, and the need to provide further housing accommodation in the area (Article 10(1), and Schedule 2, paragraph 3, of the Order).
Economic development and regeneration
SCRCA is able to exercise "such functions of the constituent authorities as are exercisable for the purpose of economic development and regeneration" under the general power of competence under section 1 of the Localism Act 2011(see Schedule 2, paragraph 1 of the Order) concurrently with the Constituent Councils (Article 11).
SCRCA also has the power to encourage visitors and provide conference facilities (Article 11(a)), and duties and powers relating to provision of education and training for those aged over 16 (Schedule 2, paragraph 4).
SCRCA has the power to instigate and defend legal proceedings (Article 11(b) of the Order). It has a duty to maintain a pension fund for the benefit of those employed in local government services (Articles 14 and 15).
SCRCA also has a more general power to do "anything it considers appropriate" for the purposes of carrying out its functions, or anything which is incidental or connection to, its functions (section 113A of the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009).
There are 10 members of SCRCA, appointed from both the Constituent Councils and the non-constituent councils (Schedule 1, paragraph 1 of Order). Each Constituent Council appoints a first member and a rotational second member. The first members all become members of the SCRCA, as well as two of the total rotational second members. The non-constituent councils each appoint a member to be a member of the SCRCA.
SCRCA's constitution confirms that some decisions are reserved for SCRCA, whilst other decisions can be delegated by SCRCA to Officers or Thematic Executive Boards. The constitution sets out some matters which are explicitly delegated although many others can be delegated as required.
SCRCA decisions are made by majority of the members present and voting on that question at a meeting (Schedule 1, paragraphs 3(1)) with a quorum of three (Schedule 1, paragraphs 3(2)). Members appointed from the Constituent Councils each have one vote (Schedule 1, paragraphs 3(3)), and members appointed from the non-constituent councils are non-voting members (Schedule 1, paragraphs 3(5)).
Powers of the Mayor
As yet, no powers or functions have been conferred on the Mayor. However, the devolution agreement between SCRCA and the Government would make the Mayor the Chair of the SCRCA, and the Mayor will exercise the following powers and functions devolved from central government:
- responsibility for a consolidated, devolved transport budget, with a multi-year settlement to be agreed at a spending review
- responsibility for franchised bus services, which will support the SCRCA's delivery of smart and integrated ticketing across SCRCA's Constituent Councils
- responsibility for an identified Key Route Network of local authority roads that will be collaboratively managed and maintained at city region level by SCRCA on behalf of the Mayor
- powers over strategic planning, including the responsibility to create a spatial framework for the city region and to chair the Sheffield City Region Joint Assets Board.
Attributed to Anna Marjoram, Trainee Solictor