TODAY, all six local authority leaders from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority agreed a devolution deal with the Government.

While the deal still needs to be ratified by the six councils later this week, this agreement in principle is the first step in making changes to the way Wirral and the whole of Liverpool City Region grows and is governed.

Councillor Phil Davies, Wirral Council leader and chairman of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, says the deal is not perfect, was rushed and politically-driven, but believes it represents a first step in what will be a long journey to rebuild the economy of our region.

Here he writes exclusively for Globe readers explaining what devolution will mean for Wirral:

AS leader of Wirral Council, I wanted to be the first to spell out to you why this deal is important and what it should mean for us.

Signing this deal had a number of motivations. First, and perhaps fundamentally, was the belief that decisions made about Liverpool City Region are best made here by local leaders than in London or Whitehall.

Starting in May 2017, policies and work to trigger investment in the region, to provide support and resources to residents and to promote the region as a place to do business will be designed and delivered locally.

They will also be led by an elected mayor for the Liverpool City Region who, over a four year term, will be held accountable by local residents for the delivery of those pledges and promises.

No matter which party is in Government nationally or in power here locally, the right for local people to choose who their city region leader is will soon be enshrined in law.

There was also a strong pragmatic reason to sign this deal.

Since 2010, the six combined local authorities in Liverpool City Region have seen more than £1.5billion cut from their collective budgets, and the Comprehensive Spending Review next week is widely expected to see further cuts of up to 40% to local government and public service funds.

While this deal does not come close to replacing the lost revenue, it does give the Combined Authority greater control over more of the money available to the region.

Opponents of the devolution deal argue we are simply enabling this Government to carry out its austerity plan, but with a large majority in Parliament their programme of cutting tax credits, police budgets and healthcare support is already well underway.

Even though many of us disagree completely with the Government’s overall economic policy, securing this deal puts us in the strongest possible position to cope with the challenges we will face over the coming months and years.

Only two weeks ago, opposition voices on Wirral Council were urging us to sign the deal without completing the negotiations.

Such a naïve move would have seen us miss out on tens of millions of pounds in investment and failed to deliver many of the powers and opportunities we secured in tense negotiations in London last week, most notably the ability to reduce future tunnel tolls.

These initial negotiations have secured devolved powers, influence and resources to the City Region which will bring the most benefit to local residents, businesses and communities and to have simply “signed up” without a fight would have been a huge mistake.

Of course, we would have liked to have secured more.

We would have like to have been negotiating with a more informed and co-operative Government, and we were disappointed to have not seen any real commitment to the campaign promises made in the General Election and the slogans surrounding the Northern Powerhouse.

This deal isn’t perfect, no deals ever are.

It was rushed and politically driven, but given the timetable presented and the Government’s position on numerous issues, all the leaders believe the initial package negotiated is the best available.

If ratified by councils later this week, we will immediately start the second round of negotiations to look at bringing more powers and resources to the city region for the benefit of Wirral residents.

We have taken a first step in what will be a long journey to rebuild the economy of our region.

Responding to news that the deal had been signed, Cllr Phil Gilchrist, leader of Wirral's Liberal Democrat group, said: "My colleagues and I will work to get this to run as smoothly as we can.

"The old north/south divide has lingered. We can now have some of the tools to overcome it.   

"Over the years we have seen projects and funding come and go.

"These haven’t always cut the mustard, worked out or left a viable legacy.

"This is a great opportunity, with strings attached. The strings and tools  are now in our own hands."