Wirral could become “a forgotten land” if proposals went ahead to create a Merseyside mayor, the Liberal Democrats have warned.

Lib Dem leader Cllr Tom Harney fumed: “A so-called elected mayor would be Liverpool based and Wirral would become a forgotten land somewhere across the river.

“I suggest whoever is advancing this madcap idea comes and spends a few days speaking to Wirral people about their priorities. They will quickly discover that being run from Liverpool is not one of them.”

Councillor Harney went on: “We have no issue with working as an independent Wirral with our neighbours in Merseyside or in North Wales and Cheshire where we have shared interests around regionally important job creation initiatives for example.

“But to give one person control over all Wirral issues is a ludicrous suggestion.”

The prospect of a regional mayor has taken on greater significance in the light a likely ministerial decision to delay Liverpool’s referendum on an elected mayor.

The city was due to hold a referendum in May but Lord Adonis, director of the Institute for Government, has recommended delaying it until 2013.

The delay could pave the way for the Government to extend mayoral influence from just Liverpool to a wider regional remit.

Councillor Richard Kemp, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition on Liverpool City Council, said it was very unlikely that there would be a ballot for elected mayors next year.

He said: “This will give us the opportunity to discuss with the Government whether a city-region mayor would be a more appropriate way to take forward both the Government’s agenda and ours.”

Both Wirral Council leader Cllr Steve Foulkes and Tory group leader Cllr Jeff Green expressed opposition to the trans-Merseyside proposal.

Councillor Foulkes said: “I am unhappy about putting all that power into the hands of one individual without knowing what the powers will be and the effect it will have on Wirral.

“We are in the process of writing to the appropriate Government minister to raise our concerns.”

Councillor Green said: “This is something I would resist. I don’t believe people would have any appetite for an elected mayor to be imposed on them.

“I spoke to Local Government Minister Bob Neil on this and I was given an assurance if Liverpool wanted an elected mayor his remit would be within the city boundaries and would not be spread to the rest of Merseyside.”

St Helens council leader Cllr Marie Rimmer said: “I do not believe that investing power in one individual is the right thing.”

But Sefton council leader Cllr Peter Dowd said he was not opposed to the principle of a regional mayor. However it had to come with additional powers and responsibilities.

He said: “This has to be about decentralisation of power, responsibility and funds and unless it is done properly it is a waste of time.”