The Joint Authorities Governance Unit is a department of Barnsley MBC's Legal and Governance Directorate. Officers provide support services to a number of organisations across South Yorkshire and the Sheffield City Region.
The Joint Authorities Governance Unit was created following the dissolution of the South Yorkshire Joint Secretariat as part of a number of changes to how local authority governance duties are discharged across South Yorkshire.
South Yorkshire Joint Secretariat (SYJS / the Secretariat) itself was established in 1986 following the abolition of South Yorkshire County Council. Under an agreement entered into by the four District Councils within South Yorkshire, SYJS became a department of Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council (Barnsley MBC) and the organisation is subject to Barnsley MBC’s conditions of service and employment policies. It was set up to provide support services to the Police, Fire & Rescue, and Integrated Transport Authorities. The Pensions Authority was created in 1988 and became the fourth main customer.
The role of the Secretariat evolved over time. In the first 10 years, one of the Secretariat’s roles was to supply a number of basic financial functions to the operational services, including Police and Fire payrolls, finance and IT systems.
Over the next 8 years most of these functions were transferred to the services themselves and the Secretariat became more engaged in supporting the Joint Authorities, the Members who comprise them, and other key stakeholders such as the District Councils.
At the same time, the Secretariat expanded its role in areas such as performance, policy support and member development. The independent reviews of the Secretariat in 2002 and 2003 reinforced the credentials of the organisation.
In its later years the organisation was able to use its skills and experience to support a number of other organisations including The South Yorkshire Lord Lieutenancy, Robin Hood Airport Consultative Committee, the South Yorkshire Local Transport Plan Partnership, the Association of Metropolitan Fire and Rescue Authorities and the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority
In a submission (April 2005) to the Lyons Inquiry into Local Government, the then Chief Executive, Clerk and Treasurer, Bill Wilkinson OBE, set out reasons for the formation of SYJS to support the Joint Authorities
Austerity-driven actions were taken to restructure how the Secretariat's services were delivered in 2014 following the retirement of a number of senior officers and the cost-saving decision to not reappoint to these positions. The responsibility of senior roles were given to district officers who effectively took on 2 jobs. The Clerk, Monitoring Officer, Treasurer and Head of Internal Audit roles are provided by Barnsley MBC senior officers (Chief Executive and Directors) and the Combined Authority's Head of Finance role is provided by Sheffield CC.
The Secretariat was officially dissolved at the end of March 2015. Ex-Secretariat teams were merged with their counterpart teams in Barnsley MBC and a new team, the Joint Authorities Governance Unit, was created (as part of the Legal and Governance Directorate) to oversee and provide governance support related for the Joint and Combined Authorities and other clients.