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Merseyside 'super council' plan to be decided tonight
WIRRAL Council will meet tonight to decide if it should join forces with Merseyside's five other local authorities.
A new report to be presented to councillors says the move has the potential to create up to 100,000 jobs over time and is “an opportunity unparalleled in the country.”
The proposal will first go before Wirral's ruling Labour cabinet this afternoon, and immediately following that, it will be put to the vote at an extraordinary meeting of the full council.
Those in favour of the merger believe it will allow Merseyside to compete with neighbouring areas such as Greater Manchester to be considered for extra Government funding.
Wirral Council leader Cllr Phil Davies said the region needs to take the step.
Speaking when the plans were fist mooted in August, Cllr Davies said: “I am proud to be part of plans that will devolve further powers down to the City Region from central Government.
“Doing nothing would seriously disadvantage the whole of Merseyside and reduce our competitiveness with other regions of the UK."
He added: “This is a joint project between all six councils so we will have a seat around the table.
"It will not be one council dominating others and I think there’s sufficient maturity among us all to guarantee we work productively together and have the resources to deal with our problems.”
But the “super council" scheme does not appeal to Conservatives, who consider it will achieve nothing but the creation of another level of costly bureaucracy.
Councillor Ian Lewis has said: “Anyone who thinks more politicians and more taxes are the answer to the issues we face is simply deluding themselves."
Liberal Democrat councillor Stuart Kelly said: "For improving economic growth prospects, these arrangements are the only way forward.”
The other councils involved in the merger – Liverpool, Knowsley, Sefton, Halton and St Helens – have also been in discussions; Liverpool’s cabinet has already approved the project and it will now go forward to a meeting of the city’s full council .
If the plan is agreed, a proposal to legally constitute the new body will be made to the Government before the end of the month.
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