Liverpool mayor threatens to exit Merseyside authority
The Mayor of Liverpool has threatened to pull out of a combined authority in Merseyside after a vote on its leadership was taken in his absence.
The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority has been set up on behalf of Merseyside's six councils.
But, Joe Anderson said the chairman and deputy were elected when he and another council leader briefly left the room.
The authority said promoting regional growth was more important than personalities or individual councils.
The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority was created to enhance co-operation between the five Merseyside councils and Halton. That's quite ambitious for a part of the world often characterised by rivalry and squabbling.
The government believes city regions can have more impact in terms of strategic planning and economic investment than individual councils working alone.
But even by Merseyside's standards this has been a terrible start.
On the positive side, the leaders have recognised the global power of the Liverpool brand in selecting its new name.
But suspicion of Liverpool's ambition and fear of its dominance has ensured that Joe Anderson does not chair it.
That's not critical in itself; the Greater Manchester Combined Authority is seen as an example of very successful collaboration and that's not chaired by the Manchester Leader, Sir Richard Leese.
The real problem is the belief of Mr Anderson and Sefton's leader Peter Dowd that they have been excluded and undermined on the first day. Collaboration requires trust and respect. It's not built on legal threats and recrimination.
Mr Anderson, who later returned with Sefton Council leader Peter Dowd, said: "I am considering options at the moment and seeking legal advice and will discuss this further at [the] full council in two weeks.
"However, my own view is I can't sign up to something which disadvantages our city."
He claimed people are "more interested in their personal ambitions than that of the city region".
A Liverpool City Council spokesman added: "Liverpool and Sefton represent half of the residents in the city region and just over half of the businesses, and yet this decision was taken without their involvement."
Councillor Phil Davies, leader of Wirral Council, was elected as chairman and Councillor Ron Round, Knowsley Council leader, was chosen to be vice chairman.
But Mr Anderson admitted "clearly the vote would have been four to two".'Personality issues'
Liverpool City Region Combined Authority said: "The overall objective to bring more jobs and growth to the region is more important than any personality or individual authority.
"The process to elect the chair and vice chair was carried out in line with the requirements of the order at the commencement of the meeting.
"In other areas, the core city does not chair the combined authority. For example, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority is chaired by the Leader at Wigan Council."
The authority was initially known as the Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, St Helens, Sefton and Wirral Combined Authority.
As a single body it can bid for extra government money on transport, economic development, employment and skills.
The model has been likened to the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, England's first statutory combined authority created two years ago.