Liverpool

Devolution deals: Merseyside and West Midlands to have elected mayors

Liverpool City Region leaders
Image caption The Merseyside deal will give Liverpool City Region leaders wide-ranging powers

Mayors will be elected in Merseyside and the West Midlands after the regions became the latest to sign "historic" devolution deals.

Merseyside became the sixth region to agree a settlement giving its political leaders wide-ranging powers under the deal signed.

It follows similar plans signed in Greater Manchester, Sheffield, the North East and Tees Valley.

Voters in Merseyside and the West Midlands will elect mayors in 2017.

Updates on this story and more from Merseyside and Cheshire

The Merseyside deal, which has been published on the government's website, includes agreements over a number of areas.

It will see the region take responsibility for the local transport budget and a £30m funding allocation intended to "unlock the economic potential" of the River Mersey, the new Liverpool2 shipping terminal and the proposed HS2 high-speed railway.

It will also oversee a review of over-16s skills provision, work with the government to find a "sustainable and viable business model for National Museums Liverpool and take responsibility for "franchised bus services".

Image caption St. Helens leader Barrie Grunewald said it was "the best possible deal for the Liverpool City Region"

Referring to Merseyside, Chancellor George Osborne said: "This revolutionary deal cements the area's position as a gateway to the north, from North Wales all the way to Newcastle, and gives local people control over their own affairs for the first time."

He thanked all the council leaders for working together to come to an agreement which will give the Liverpool City Region a "powerful new voice in national life".

Previously, the deal had been hampered by disagreements between the six authorities in the region.

Barrie Grunewald, the leader of St. Helens Council - which has previously opposed the idea of an elected mayor - said the council's "concerns are well known, but I believe that the prize is worth the price".

"We must all work together in a positive, constructive manner to get the best possible deal for the people of the Liverpool City Region," he added.


Analysis

Mairead Smyth, Political Reporter, BBC Radio Merseyside

The agreement will be ratified at meetings of all the councils on Thursday night.

The politicians have each given their response to the deal signed - Sefton's Ian Maher believes it is the best on offer, which is something Knowsley's Andy Moorhead agrees with.

St. Helens' Barrie Grunewald met his Labour group on Saturday and received their support, and Wirral's Phil Davies believes the £900m deal is a great start for the region.

Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson says he has been pushing for this model of governance for over 10 years, while Halton's leader Rob Polhill says despite disagreeing with the Government's economic policy, "securing this deal puts us in a stronger position to cope with the challenges we will face over the coming years".

The message from all was that this is just the start of the process and that they will now begin to ask for more.


More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites