Barrie Grunewald: St Helens’ identity will be protected

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All in all it’s been a pretty momentous week here in St Helens!

At last Thursday’s meeting of the full council members voted to sign up for a

devolution deal that will see almost £1 billion of extra funding come the

way of the Liverpool City Region over the next 30 years.

It’s a deal that will give people here in St Helens – and the rest of the city region – greater control and more decision-making powers on big issues like economic development, transport and skills.

Along with the leaders of the five other local authorities – Liverpool, Knowsley, Halton, Sefton and Wirral – I believe this is the best possible outcome we can secure for the people of the Liverpool City Region.

And yes – our concerns around an elected Mayor are well known. But I, and

my fellow St Helens councillors, believe that the prize is worth the price.

It doesn’t matter who the Mayor is – or where they are from – there are

safeguards in place to ensure they cannot exceed their authority or exert undue control over St Helens or any other borough.

St Helens has a proud, independent identity – and this will continue. But

together with our neighbours we can be part of a much bigger success story.

Like everyone else around the world I was stunned, then horrified, as events unfolded in Paris last Friday night.

More than 130 people were killed just because they happened to be at a

concert, in a bar or visiting a restaurant.

It’s a night that will remain with the friends and relatives of those who died for the rest of their lives.

Nothing anyone can do or say will help. But it’s been heartening to see so

many people around the world showing solidarity with France and identifying with its people in their hour of need.

St Helens residents can express their sympathy by signing a book of condolence at the town hall.

As a mark of respect the council has also been flying the Union flag at half-mast and has lit the Steve Prescott Bridge in the colours of the French national flag.