COUNCILLORS in Wirral will discuss plans to devolve more powers from Whitehall to the Liverpool city region when they meet this week.

Wirral Council leader Phil Davies joined colleagues from the other five Merseyside authorities for talks in London last Monday

One of the more unexpected  devolution “asks” has been revealed as a plan to build the UK’s first “tidal lagoon."

They spent an hour discussing the contentious plans – which include an elected mayor for Liverpool – with Treasury Minister Lord Jim O’Neill.

The Combined Authority - made up of Wirral, Liverpool, St Helens, Halton, Sefton and Knowsley - has submitted a wish list of powers they want to secure from the government.

While some of the "asks" seem straight forward, others are more ambitious, including a vision to build the first offshore tidal lagoon in the UK.

One of the key elements to the devolution deal surrounds the Mersey Tunnels, with the combined authority asking the Government to pay off the debts on the tunnels together with allowing the freedom to set toll levels locally.

In the document submitted to Government, it says: "Paying the debt will help create a bigger investment fund to reinvest in local transport. More control over the tolls will enable toll levels to be varied by time of day, by engine type or in response to users' specific needs."

It also asks for "legislative clarity on the ability to utilise the tunnel toll income for wider economic development purposes".

One of the most debated asks is that of introducing an elected mayor.

Leader of Wirral Council Cllr Phil Davies has been accused of performing an embarrassing U-turn over plans for a "metro mayor" for Merseyside.

Back in June Cllr Davies was of the view that a metro mayor would place too much power in the hands of one person.

He claimed Chancellor George Osborne - who has staked his political reputation on creating the powerhouse concept - was "fixated" with imposing a mayor and called for a local referendum before such a position was created.

Councillor Davies has since changed his view point, recently telling Radio Merseyside he believes an elected mayor ruling over the county's political landscape might be the only way to become part of the Government's "Northern Powerhouse" initiative.

Councillor Davies, who is also chairman of the combined authority, said leaders will accept a metro mayor “if the prize is worth the price.”

In the document submitted to Government, it states: "We are prepared to consider making a change in our local governance arrangements but only when we have considered the outcome of the negotiations with government on the devolution package for the City Region."

While details of the mysterious "tidal lagoon" have not yet been revealed, it is not the first time ambitious plans have been advanced by Wirral Council - but there is an unfortunate history of things going terribly wrong. Remember the Moon Clock? 

  • Wirral Council will meet to discuss the devolution deal at an extraordinary meeting at Wallasey Town Hall on Thursday at 6pm.