Merseyside Councils and Halton 'agree' devolution deal

Liver Building Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The deal still has to be ratified by all six councils

The five council leaders of Merseyside plus Halton have "agreed in principle" a deal with the government to devolve more powers from Whitehall.

Part of the proposal will include plans for a directly elected mayor for the Liverpool city region.

The "devolution deal" will still need to be agreed by each of the six councils individually, with St Helens believed to be the most sceptical.

Last month a government minister claimed the region was not ready.

Later Lord Heseltine, who said he was working closely with Communities Secretary Greg Clark, met with the region's council leaders and urged progress.

Analysis: Arif Ansari Political Editor BBC North West

This is a significant moment for the Liverpool city region. There will not be any fireworks or major announcement, but it marks the moment that the six councils agree in principle to have a directly-elected mayor, what's been dubbed a "Mayor for Merseyside".

The five council leaders of Merseyside, plus Halton in Cheshire, have met government ministers to agree to a "devolution deal". We wait to see the detail but it means taking more powers and budgets from Whitehall to be controlled locally, around areas like transport, skills and housing.

But is everybody on board? Halton was sceptical, but is now expected to back the deal. Less certain is what St Helens will do. Council leaders are briefing MPs.

They will then need to get the deal ratified by their respective local authorities on 19 November. Assuming they are successful it will form the basis for another big announcement on the eve of the Chancellor's Spending Review.

Council leaders from Merseyside and Halton met with the Treasury earlier to discuss the final details of a deal on devolution for the region.

The BBC understands they agreed on the proposal in principle.

A spokesman for Liverpool City Region Combined Authority said the talks with treasury minister Lord O'Neill were productive and the leaders are pleased with the progress. A final report on the deal will go before all councils on the 19 November.

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