Government and council sign off Liverpool mayor's powers

Liverpool City Council and the government yesterday signed off the first of the deals that ministers hope will bring clearer leadership in England's cities in return for devolved powers.

The Liverpool City Deal package means the city gets a directly-elected mayor as well as new powers over regeneration and economic growth.

This includes the first mayoral development corporation (MDC) outside London, which will control an investment fund of £130million and aims to attract private investment and stimulate economic growth.

This fund includes £75million of new investment promised by the Department for Communities and Local Government by 2015, conditional on the Treasury approving the business case for spending it.

The remainder is from existing funds, such as the Regional Growth Fund, that will now be moved into the single investment fund.

The Labour-run council voted in favour of the initiative at a meeting last night. It followed cities minister Greg Clark's confirmation of the deal in a letter to the council and a statement to Parliament.

Liverpool's City Deal involves creating a new enterprise zone for the central business district and five mayoral development zones to target regeneration in other areas of the city. At the time of publication, the council has not responded to queries as to the exact planning and other incentives that would be available in the zones.

The deal will also provide powers to help young unemployed people through welfare-to-work pilot schemes, oversee the development of assets in the city owned by national regeneration body the Homes & Communities Agency and, using the DCLG funding, build six new secondary schools.

Speaking after Clark's announcement, council leader Joe Anderson said: "It is a huge moment for Liverpool. It’s the culmination of four months of tough negotiations with government.

"The deal is bespoke to us. For the first time in decades, we are being given the chance for power to be returned to the city from Whitehall."

Under the City Deals scheme, new powers of regeneration and finance have been promised to England’s largest cities that can demonstrate strong, accountable leadership and private sector support.

Each city can specify the particular powers they want to meet local needs, which the government must then approve.

Clark said: "It is fantastic to see Liverpool become the first city in Britain to seize the opportunity on offer. Liverpool has seized the chance to attract private investment, create jobs and build a prosperous future."

Following the mayoral elections on May 3, the same day as the local elections, the new mayor will take office on 7 May.

john.geoghegan@haymarket.com


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