COUNCIL leaders have clashed over who should claim credit for a surge in new businesses starting up in Wirral.

A new report shows the borough is seeing record levels of growth - with new companies in professional, scientific and technical industries accounting for almost a third of start-ups.

The Companies House review rated the borough as second only to Aberdeen, home of the UK’s oil boom, for the percentage of new business growth since the recession began.

Wirral Council leader Cllr Phil Davies said the figures confirmed the effectiveness of their economic strategy - while Conservatives claimed credit should be shared with central Government.

Councillor Davies said "This is excellent news and a validation of the success of our investment strategy.

“We have worked hard to create a healthy business environment and to provide support for businesses to grow across the borough.

“We have worked closely with the private sector and listened to what they told us about the support needed, and I am very pleased that by working together, we have been able to see the growth that these external reports verify.

“Growing the economy is a key objective for us as a council and I am proud that despite the very difficult economic conditions nationally, we have been able to grow our businesses and economy at a much higher rate than most of the UK.”

Conservative group leader Clllr Jeff Green said: "I am pleased the council has finally acknowledged the Government's economic strategy is working, especially when we have become so used to hearing Labour proclaiming that growth is weak and job creation unsustainable.

"However, while this growth is very good news for Wirral, we must now ensure we do not find ourselves subsumed into the Liverpool-centric Combined Regional Authority.

“Wirral needs to maintain the independence and flexibility that has encouraged all this recent investment."

Figures published by the Office of National Statistics last week also showed a 7% in-year growth of the borough’s "Gross Valued Added" – how much the economy is worth in terms of production of goods and services.

Wirral's GVA saw the highest growth in the Northwest and was among the highest across the UK.