Merseyside backs elected mayor plan in devolution deal

Liverpool waterfront Image copyright William Starkey
Image caption The idea for a Merseyside mayor was initially only supported by Liverpool and Sefton councils

The Liverpool region's six councils have agreed to open talks to discuss an elected mayor for Merseyside.

The move, which would give local politicians greater control over public money, was proposed after Greater Manchester agreed a similar deal.

Initially, only Sefton and Liverpool supported the idea of an elected mayor but now Wirral, St. Helens, Halton and Knowsley are also considering it.

Negotiations with government over a so-called "devolution deal" can now begin.

The chair of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, Phil Davies, said the councils would "ask for the kind of rapid progress towards devolution that we have seen in Manchester".

On 3 November, Chancellor George Osborne said Greater Manchester was to get an elected mayor to preside over regional issues.

The mayor will oversee policies such as transport, social care and housing as well as police budgets.

'Strong package'

Mr Davies said momentum was gathering for devolution and the councils had agreed "we need to be at the forefront of the debate".

"I fully expect that we will agree a strong package of proposals at this week's meeting of the combined authority, which will form the basis of the discussion with government," he said.

Analysis: BBC North West Tonight political reporter, Arif Ansari

The Conservative Lord Heseltine and Labour's Lord Adonis spent Monday in Liverpool persuading local leaders to start negotiating.

But what's really focused minds is the government's deal with Greater Manchester earlier this month and the idea of greater control over public spending in exchange for a mayor.

Joe Anderson has long argued for a mayor for Merseyside, but Wirral, St. Helens and Halton said no.

Now they've all written to the Chancellor asking to open negotiations.

Following the Manchester announcement, Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson said Merseyside needed a similar system, adding that he would be interested in running for the Merseyside mayoral role.

Mr Osborne said at the time he was open to the idea of a mayor for Merseyside, but only if all the councils agreed.

The combined authority will discuss plans for devolution at a meeting on Friday.

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