England

Cheshire 'to get elected mayor' in devolution deal

jodrell bank, chester races, chester rows Image copyright Getty Images/Geograph
Image caption An election for a Cheshire mayor could take place next year

Cheshire will get an elected mayor as part of a devolution deal set to be unveiled in coming weeks, the BBC understands.

Three of Cheshire's four councils submitted a bid for more powers and funding from government last August.

Conservative MP for Warrington South David Mowat said a mayor would ensure "clear, democratic accountability".

But Helen Jones, Labour MP for Warrington North, argued the plans were a Conservative "stitch-up".

"In terms of Warrington, this is not real devolution at all because what it will do is, very likely, give a Tory power over areas that overwhelmingly vote Labour."

Devolution deals with elected mayors have already been agreed for regions across England including Greater Manchester and the Liverpool City Region.

The councils in Warrington, Cheshire East, and Cheshire West and Chester claimed in 2015 that their devolution bid would help create 112,000 jobs, improve transport and boost business.

Parliamentary debate

It is believed an election could take place next year.

The Labour leader of Warrington Borough Council, Terry O'Neill, claimed the mayor would be "just a figurehead" who would have responsibility over devolved powers funding and powers, but the three local authorities "would have a veto over the mayor's decisions".

Mr O'Neill added: "From the government's point of view, there has to be a mayor."

A Parliamentary debate on the issue will take place next week.

Chancellor George Osborne, who is MP for Tatton, said: "I'm in favour of elected mayors but don't want to impose them. So I'm happy to listen to what local elected councils want."

A joint statement from Warrington, Cheshire East and Cheshire West & Chester councils said "no decisions have been made" and a public consultation would be held before any deal was confirmed.

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