WIRRAl Council leader Phil Davies has announced he is to step down as chairman of Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.

His decision comes after councils across Merseyside and Halton last month backed an historic devolution agreement with the Government – and accepted an elected mayor for the region.

Councillor Davies described it as a “momentous day” as he outlined the deal, which hands over powers worth up to £3bn to Merseyside.

On the Wirral Labour 2015 Facebook page Cllr Davies said “I am proud to have played a leading role in delivering our devolution deal, a move that will bring real benefit to the residents of the City Region.

“It was a historic moment and the Combined Authority still has much work to do to negotiate the next set of devolved powers and resources and ensure the capacity and capability to deliver devolution is in place.

“Wirral Council has an ambitious five year plan involving '20 Pledges' to support residents, grow our economy and protect our environment. Having helped to negotiate the Liverpool City Region devolution deal, I felt now was the right moment to rebalance my time in favour of my duties as Wirral Council leader.”

A City Region Combined Authority spokesman said “Cllr Davies has been chair of the Combined Authority since its inception in April 2014.

“His plan was always to drive forward the devolution of powers and secure the best possible deal for the City Region and then step down as chair to concentrate on his substantive role as Leader of Wirral Council.

“Given the devolution deal announcement on November 17, nominations for a new chair will be sought at the combined authority meeting later this week.”

Councillor Davies made it clear at the time of signing that the devolution deal "isn't perfect."

Addressing last month's meeting of full council, he said: "The Government effectively held a gun to our heads around the metro mayor model which to me seems more of a Big Brother approach than trusting local representatives to make this decision for themselves.

"I'm not a fan of a metro mayor and I would have liked to look at other governance models. Nevertheless, I think the benefits we are getting from this, on balance, make it worth supporting a change of governance.

"Pragmatically we have got the best deal we can for Wirral and the city region and now it's incumbent on all of us to make sure it works."

The Combined Authority is made up of the leaders of Sefton, Knowsley, Liverpool, St Helens, Wirral and Halton, along with the Local Enterprise Partnership representing the private sector.

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson is the front runner to be nominated to replace Cllr Davies.