Being part of Liverpool City Region is paying off says St Helens Council leader

St Helens Council leaderDerek Long
St Helens Council leaderDerek Long
Share this article

Being part of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority is paying off “fairly substantially”, the leader of St Helens Council has said.

Residents across the city region will have to pay a precept, dubbed the ‘metro mayor tax’, to the combined authority from April.

On Monday, St Helens Council leader Derek Long told the overview and scrutiny commission just what St Helens is getting for its money.

Coun Long told members the combined authority has secured an additional £183 million for the city region in the past 18 months alone.

This is in addition to the £1 billion devolution deal it struck with the government in 2015.

In addition, Coun Long said around £400 million in devolution projects across the city region have been approved, creating 9,000 jobs and 5,500 apprenticeships.

Coun Long, the combined authority’s portfolio holder for housing and spatial planning, said: “If you’re not a city region you don’t get this money.

“That’s the way government kind of operates now and it’s clearly the way forward.”

The Labour leader added that being part of the combined authority “pays off”.

“It pays off fairly substantially,” he said.

Coun Long said the cost of being part of the city region for St Helens residents in 2019-20 is around 28p per household, per week.

This cost is added to residents’ council tax bills in the form a Liverpool City Region Combined Authority precept.

Of that figure, 4.7% goes directly towards funding the post of the metro mayor, Steve Rotheram.

Coun Long said that tax brings a return, on average, of £500 in additional funding per Liverpool City Region household.

But Thatto Heath councillor Richard McCauley pressed the Labour leader on the tangible benefits of being a member of the combined authority.

Coun Long pointed to the Windle Island works, which has been part-funded using £4 million from the combined authority.

He also pointed to the recently-opened Newton-le-Willows station interchange and the £24 million secured for the Parkside Link Road project.

And Coun Long said the council has submitted a bid for £1 million from the combined authority’s town centre fund, one of the metro mayor’s initiatives to revitalise town centres across the city region.

In total, Coun Long said St Helens has secured around £53 million in additional resources by being a member of the combined authority.

Labour Windle councillor David Baines, chairman of the overview and scrutiny commission, said it is important that residents understand what St Helens gets out of being part of the city region.

Coun Baines said: “I welcome what you said about the jobs, the apprenticeships.

“I think this is all tangible stuff that will make a difference in our communities to the people we represent.

“I’ve had questions like I’m sure most members have about the precept, but when you tell people what we’re getting back I think it does help at least put a picture in their mind that it’s not just money for nothing.

“We are part of something and the borough as a whole is benefitting from it, and that’s an important message to get out.”