St Helens Council agrees Liverpool Devo deal

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St Helens Council has unanimously approved the Devo Liverpool deal.

Council leader Barrie Grunewald said the move would bring the town closer to all five other councils in the city region without losing decision-making authority.

Coun Grunewald said: “I believe this is the best deal we can secure for the people of St Helens – and the wider Liverpool City Region.

“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.

“I’m absolutely clear that decisions about the future of this borough should be made as close to this borough as possible. This devolution deal brings some crucial decision making from the Government and closer to St Helens.

“It’s a better deal than it would have been if it hadn’t been for the efforts of those representing this town. When Government announced its plans for devolution deals there was little, if any, money on the table. Now there is.

While £30m a year over 30 years is not a huge amount, it’s better than nothing - especially given the funding challenges we, and local government as a whole, face over the years ahead.”

The devolution agreement includes almost £1billion of extra funding over the next 30 years, greater control and decision-making powers in terms of local priorities for economic development, transport and skills, and the introduction of an appropriate governance structure.

Addressing local concerns on loss of local power, Coun Grunewald said: “Some fear that devolution is a means for a takeover – it is not. We are too strong a body to be put under such pressure and I will ensure that remains the case.

“What we have ensured is that local leaders will retain their influence over both the combined authority and mayoral plans and that we may reject such if necessary – on a two-thirds majority vote basis – so that all parts of the city region benefit from the resources being made available. There will also be a veto available on certain aspects.”

Although the devolution deal was agreed on Monday with the Government, it is yet to be ratified by all councils.

It is also subject to the passing of the necessary legislation (The Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill and the Buses Bill) and to parliamentary approval of the secondary legislation implementing the provisions of the agreement.