The communities secretary has insisted he will not step in to resolve rows over combined authorities’ footprints.
Speaking at a fringe event at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester on Sunday, Greg Clark said “the last [person] that should be deciding” on the boundaries for a devolution bid should be “someone in Westminster”.
“The definition of what is the economic geography is not laid down in any economic manual, it’s something that local people recognise and not everybody has the same view of it,” he said.
“It’s possible to crack it, but it needs to be done through patience, rather than an order from Whitehall.”
Mr Clark’s comments came in response to a question from Staffordshire CC councillor David Smith (Con) about the correct geography for the emerging West Midlands Combined Authority.
Councils in Yorkshire are also struggling to agree on the best boundaries for devolution of powers from central government.
A number of districts in the south of Staffordshire, including Lichfield where Cllr Smith represents, are considering joining the seven metropolitan councils in Birmingham and the Black Country.
These seven have agreed to form a combined authority and are negotiating a devolution deal with government.
Cllr Smith said: “Counties are getting very confused by district councils saying ‘we’d like to be part of that’ but they’re so small they don’t have any influence.”