ST HELENS residents are being urged by the Green Party not to sleepwalk into a Liverpool City region.
Hundreds of people in the town have already signed a petition in opposition to the proposals.
The issue has sparked furious debate by those who fear seeing the town's identity swallowed by Liverpool.
St Helens Green Party is urging residents to fight the plans which they say will integrate the town into the Liverpool City Region.
People have until today (Wednesday, January 22) to register their comments to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).
An online petition has been launched at sthelens.greenparty.org.uk to allow objectors to email the DCLG direct.
Francis Williams of St Helens Green party said: “Thanks to our local politicians who have been actively developing Liverpool City region behind our backs for years, St Helens is sleepwalking into city region governance.
“These proposals amount to little more than a rubber stamping exercise dreamt up by Liverpool Labour and the proxy politicians it imposes on St Helens and other localities.
“Where is the democracy, the transparency, the accountability?
“There is little hard evidence to support the claims being made in the consultation document and no evidence at all that the proposed structure will make a blind bit of difference.
“Local authorities, businesses and others working together to tackle key challenges such as economic development and climate change makes perfect sense.
“But equally it makes sense for us to hang on to our identity and St Helens has been suffering an identity crisis since 1974. This could be the final nail in the coffin.
“St Helens hasn’t Liverpool’s riches in terms of heritage and culture but we have to make the most of what we’ve got to put St Helens back on the map. Our economy, jobs, prospects, livelihoods and quality of life depend on it.
“Sadly the historical record shows there is little reason to believe that the current council leadership will stand up for St Helens, only self-preservation.
“So it is up to the people of St Helens to take matters into their own hands. It’s time to stand up for St Helens.”
St Helens Council has formally backed the move but insisted that it would not create a ‘super council’. Senior councillors believe it would give the region more collective bargaining power when bidding for funding on issues such as transport.
The proposals can be read online at gov.uk/government under ‘Proposals to establish a combined authority for Greater Merseyside’.
Responses can also be made in writing to Kathy Billington, Department for Communities and Local Government, Local Democracy Division, Zone 3/J1 Eland House, Bressenden Place, London SW1E 5DU.