Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson has been appointed chairman of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, replacing Wirral leader Cllr Phil Davies, who had announced his intention to step down prior to the authority’s meeting on Friday.
Davies held the chairman’s role since the combined authority was formed on 1 April 2014. In a statement issued by all the local authority leaders following the meeting, they said Davies’ “intention had always been to drive negotiations with the Government on securing the best possible deal for the residents, businesses, investors and visitors to the Liverpool City Region through the devolution of powers and funding. The first phase of these negotiations concluded on 17 November 2015, with the Liverpool City Region securing £3.2bn of funding over the next 30 years.”
Davies added: “I am proud to have played a leading role in delivering our devolution deal, a move that will bring real benefit to the residents of the City Region. It was a historic moment and the Combined Authority still has much work to do to negotiate the next set of devolved powers and resources and ensure the capacity and capability to deliver devolution is in place. Wirral Council has an ambitious five-year plan involving 20 Pledges to support residents, grow our economy, and protect our environment. Having helped to negotiate the Liverpool City Region devolution deal, I felt now was the right moment to rebalance my time in favour of my duties as Wirral Council Leader.
“I have no doubt at all that Joe will build on what we have already achieved. He has a passion for the City Region and a desire to see it succeed as a major economic force within the Northern Powerhouse. His experience in leading Liverpool successfully in the face of some massive challenges in recent years will be invaluable in taking on this new role and I look forward to continuing to work with him to make a positive contribution along with my fellow Leaders and the City Region’s Local Enterprise Partnership.”
Anderson added: “I would like to say thanks to Phil who I and my other colleagues have worked closely with on the devolution deal. It has been an intense and challenging period and one which I believe has brought us closer together with a shared goal to grow our region for all of its people. The work continues – not just on preparing for delivery of the negotiated deal but also in terms of getting more from Government in the next phase. All of us have a vital role to play in this. I am looking forward to working with a united and visionary partnership of leaders.”
Davies will continue as the lead member for economic development across the Liverpool city region. Other lead responsibilities assigned at Friday’s meeting included Cllr Rob Polhill, leader of Halton, for transport, Cllr Andy Moorhead, Knowsley leader, for health and wellbeing, Cllr Ian Maher, Sefton, for employment and skills and Cllr Barrie Grunewald, St Helens, for housing and planning for growth. Mayor Anderson will lead on the next phase of the devolution deal and public service reform.
On the officer side, a new interim head of paid service for the combined authority was also confirmed. Ged Fitzgerald, chief executive of Liverpool City Council, will co-ordinate public relations for the authority, and take overall responsibility for its operations.
The next meeting of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority is due to take place on Friday 22 January 2016 at 11am.