ANY future devolution deal ‘must be right’ for Cheshire and Warrington.

A report providing an update on the potential for a ‘county deal’ for Cheshire and Warrington will come before the supporting the local economy policy committee at its meeting next Wednesday.

Warrington Borough Council’s Labour group voted for the town to team up with Cheshire West and Chester Council and Cheshire East Council in a devolution deal – instead of the Liverpool City Region – in January 2017.

Discussions with the Government over a potential devolution deal for Warrington and Cheshire have taken place, but there is yet to be an agreement.

It has previously been reported that, if arrangements are thrashed out, the move would see the Government delegate major powers to the three authorities – and it could deliver funds of at least £30 million a year for a decade, although it may have the potential to secure this amount of cash for close to 25 years.

The report says devolution is fundamentally about the ‘transferring of power’ from central Government to local or regional administrations – and that the objective is to provide ‘greater freedoms and flexibilities at a local level’, which should allow Councils to work ‘more effectively’ in improving public services for their areas.

It also states that the powers devolved vary across the different devolution deals, with ‘the most expansive powers on offer only to places that adopt mayoral leadership’ – and that each devolution deal is negotiated separately between ministers and local leaders.

It adds: “Combined authorities are corporate bodies formed of two or more council areas, established with or without an elected mayor.

“In Warrington’s case this would include Cheshire West and Chester and Cheshire East local authorities.

“The combined authority enables groups of two or more councils to take decisions across boundaries on issues which extend beyond the interests of any one individual local authority.

“They are a legal body set up using secondary legislation (Combined Authority Orders) but are locally owned and must be initiated by the councils involved.

“Any devolution deal must be right for Cheshire and Warrington. It needs to not only accurately reflect the economic geography but the specific characteristics of its economy.

“Cheshire and Warrington is a hotbed of science, technology and manufacturing innovation.

“There are large-scale economic growth opportunities through new strategic infrastructure, such as Hynet and Northern Powerhouse Rail along with brownfield land that, with targeted remediation funding, could provide tens of thousands of homes.

“To date the Government, whilst engaging with Cheshire and Warrington, have offered a somewhat ‘fixed menu’ approach, which inevitably does not enable Cheshire and Warrington to achieve its full economic and environmental potential.

“Throughout 2024 the council, working with Cheshire East and Cheshire West and Chester councils, will continue to engage with UK Government officials on a deal that is right for Warrington and the subregion.

“Mindful of the potential for a General Election in 2024, both the Conservative Party and the Labour Party have set out their intentions to go further still with devolution in a future Parliament.”

The committee is recommended to note the contents of this report.