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Merseyside combined authority plans outlined

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Councils in Merseyside have published details of their plans to create a combined authority responsible for economic development, transport and strategic housing across six local authorities.

The Liverpool city region combined authority, due to come into place from 1 April 2014, would have the “primary purpose” of “boosting economic growth and performance within the Liverpool City Region,” according to draft consultation papers published by the councils involved.

It would cover Liverpool City Council, Sefton MBC, Halton BC, Knowsley MBC, St Helens MBC and Wirral BC.

The consultation paper said the combined authority would “have responsibility for a significant programme of investment in transport and economic infrastructure” and would “influence and align with government investment in order to boost economic growth”.

It would take over the role of the Merseyside Integrated Transport Authority, which controls local transport services. The MITA would be dissolved.

The councils have also asked communities secretary Eric Pickles to consider extending the “general power of competence”, a set of rights granted to councils under the 2011 Localism Act, to the new combined authority.

Under the plans, each of the six councils would be represented by either the council leader or elected mayor. The chair of the Local Enterprise Partnership would also be co-opted onto the board.

Any decision would have to be approved by a “simple majority” of the members.

The consultation paper said the region must improve its economic performance. “There is a latent potential within the Liverpool City Region for additional economic activity,” it said. “If performing at the national average an additional £8.2bn of output would be generated per annum for the national economy.

“To achieve this we would need to create an additional 18,500 businesses and see a further 90,000 jobs created.”

The paper said this growth could help to close a £1,700 per head “wealth gap” between the average household across the six local authorities, and the average UK household.

The new body would be funded by a levy on the six councils involved.

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