Warrington councillors agree to devolution with elected mayor

Warrington Town Hall Image copyright Google
Image caption Councillors have agreed an elected mayor is the preferable model, but it remains unclear which devolution deal Warrington will join

Warrington councillors have agreed to accept an elected mayor as part of a future devolution deal.

The agreement is the result of "internal political discussions", but uncertainty remains regarding which devolution deal the borough may join.

Councillors are split over whether to join the Liverpool City Region or a new Cheshire devolution deal.

Council leader Terry O'Neill said he would "continue conversations" with neighbouring authorities.

Labour-controlled Warrington Borough Council submitted a joint devolution bid to the government with Cheshire East Council and Cheshire West & Chester Council in August 2015.

However, in June 2016 councillors on the ruling Labour group in Warrington voted to reject the deal, which would have seen an elected mayor for the county.

Image copyright William Starkey
Image caption Some councillors have indicated a preference for Warrington to join the Liverpool City Region devolution deal

The BBC understands some wanted the council to consider joining the Liverpool City Region instead.

A cross-party group of councillors tasked with deciding a way forward is due to present recommendations in December.

One Labour member of the taskforce, Morgan Tarr, claimed "the majority" of the group believed that the "best option available" to was to continue negotiations with the Liverpool City Region.

Helen Jones, Labour MP for Warrington North, previously argued the Cheshire devolution plans were a Conservative "stitch-up", because a mayor in the county was "very likely" to be a Conservative.

Mr O'Neill said: "We are now in agreement that the model of devolved powers from Whitehall, together with an elected mayor, is the most appropriate arrangement for our borough.

"We will continue our conversations with other local authorities and government to ensure we have the best set of benefits to support the long term future of the borough and the best outcomes for our residents and businesses."