Weaver Vale’s MP Mike Amesbury has used a debate on the Northern Powerhouse to call for further progress on devolution for Cheshire.
Mr Amesbury is a longstanding proponent of introducing an elected mayor for Cheshire, which he says would give the county a greater say on issues ranging from transport infrastructure to social and business programmes.
Part of Mr Amesbury’s constituency, Runcorn, currently falls under a metro mayor (Labour’s Steve Rotheram, mayor of the Liverpool City Region) while the rest of it does not.
Mike says his conversations with a range of figures – including the local enterprise partnership – have revealed that the county is falling behind when it comes to the ‘soft power’ a mayor is able to bring to bear on government and industry.
During a debate in the House of Commons, Mike (who previously worked on Andy Burnham’s campaign for Metro Mayor of Greater Manchester before becoming an MP) said: “Cheshire West and Chester Council, Cheshire East Council, Warrington Borough Council, the local enterprise partnership and other stakeholders are determined in their quest to secure a devolution deal, yet increasingly frustrated.
“Will the Minister update the House on the timetable for the deal?”
Responding, Jake Berry, parliamentary under-secretary of state for the Northern Powerhouse and local growth, replied: “All the councils he mentions and the LEP have brought out what they refer to as the prospectus for growth, which is looking at how they can deliver real economic benefits for the people who live in Warrington and elsewhere in Cheshire.
“The government remain open to ground-up locally supported devolution deals.”
Mr Berry added: “I encourage the honourable gentleman, the council leaders and the LEP to continue the discussions they have been having with me and my officials.”
Other leading figures calling for more progress on devolution for the county include Tatton Group MD Henry Brooks, who has given his backing to proposals for devolved powers for the Cheshire and Warrington region (read more, here).