Liverpool City Region devolution plans questioned

By Claire Hamilton
Political reporter, BBC Radio Merseyside

image sourceWilliam Starkey
image captionKnowsley Council believes a plans for an elected mayor for Merseyside should be subject to a referendum

Plans to devolve more powers to Merseyside appear to have stalled even before the start of formal talks.

Chancellor George Osborne last month told BBC News that Merseyside would only be given greater devolved powers if an elected mayor is put into place.

But at least one Merseyside council does not believe in that concept.

Knowsley Council has voted against the plan with leader Ron Round wanting any proposed changes to first be approved by the public in a referendum.

Mr Round said that while he fully supports greater devolution for Merseyside, he believes people across the planned "Liverpool City Region" should be consulted.


This is a view echoed by Wirral council leader Phil Davies, who is also chair of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority. He says such a huge change of governance could not be carried out without consulting the public.

Greater Manchester's push for devolution came with the proviso of an elected mayor - and no referendum and it seems unlikely Merseyside could negotiate a different deal.

Mr Davies says he is expecting a meeting with Cities Minister Greg Clark later this month to discuss the details of any possible deal.

Mr Round says he doesn't believe anything he and his colleagues have said will prevent such a meeting taking place.

A Department for Communities and Local Government said: "The government is open to discussions about possible deals with any area that is interested in greater devolution of powers."

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