Derbyshire County Council has taken legal advice from a QC about a potential legal challenge to Chesterfield Borough Council’s decision to join the Sheffield City Region.
A spokeswoman for Derbyshire County Council said: “We don’t consider making legal challenges lightly but we have a duty to act in the best interests of all Derbyshire’s residents.
“Chesterfield Borough Council’s decision to apply to become a full member of Sheffield City Region and to ratify their devolution deal could impact massively on local people in the longer term. It should have done an equality impact assessment at this stage to look at the potential impact of its decision on people protected by anti-discrimination legislation such as vulnerable and disadvantaged residents.”
Derbyshire has asked Chesterfield to withdraw its decision while it assesses the full impact any changes to services will have on these residents.
“If the borough council refuses then we will consider whether or not to apply for a judicial review,” the spokeswoman added.
Derbyshire is pursuing its own devolution deal with Nottinghamshire, Nottingham, Derby City and a number of the Derbyshire district and borough councils. This would see the establishment of a North Midlands Combined Authority.
A Chesterfield Borough Council spokesman said: “We have received letters from Derbyshire County Council raising legal issues with the council’s decision on 3 March to apply for full membership of the Sheffield City Region.
“We are currently taking advice on the issue.”
Chesterfield had said earlier this month that it would be applying for “an equal seat at the table” of the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority alongside Sheffield, Barnsley, Rotherham and Doncaster councils.
“This builds on the strong relationships that have already delivered significant investment in Chesterfield from the Sheffield City Region,” it said.
Cllr John Burrows, leader of Chesterfield, explained the reasons behind the decision.
"I'm Chesterfield born and bred. If you cut me open I would have Chesterfield written on one side and Derbyshire on the other,” he said.
"So from day one I have been very clear that this is not about us moving anywhere as some people have claimed. Chesterfield is a Derbyshire town and will always be a Derbyshire town. Changing that has never been on the agenda and it never will be.
"This decision has been about what is going to be best for our economy and will most benefit our residents and businesses. It's about creating jobs opportunities for young people who tell me they are desperately struggling to find work. It is about supporting the Chesterfield businesses who tell me that they want to expand but need staff with the right skills to do so.
"And it's about giving our town an equal say at a table where £900m is being handed out over the next 30 years."
Chesterfield has also decided to apply to become a non-constituent member of the North Midlands Combined Authority.