THE Government has backed the creation of a combined council that will make key regional decisions – but confusion surrounds what it will be called.
Previously, it was believed the regional organisation – which includes St Helens Council – was going to be titled the Liverpool City Region.
But eyebrows have been raised after it emerged it has the long-winded name of the ‘Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, St Helens, Sefton and Wirral Combined Authority’.
Reports suggested that Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson is dismayed that the pulling power of the city’s name is not being used.
Critics of the scheme have argued that St Helens’ identity is at risk if it aligns itself too closely with Liverpool.
An order is already before Parliament which would enable the combined authority to come into effect on Tuesday, April 1.
Political leaders say the new body will be more effective in supporting businesses to grow and create more jobs through a better decision- making process.
They say it will also encourage residents to set up their own businesses and attract new firms to the area.
They also insist it will not result in the merger of existing council functions and it will not be a ‘super council’.
Its focus will be on economic development, transport and employment and developing skills across the region.
St Helens Council leader Barrie Grunewald turned to Twitter to label the naming issue “a manufactured row”, insisting that “all had previously agreed on the name Liverpool City Region”.
But he emphasised it will be what the regional council does – rather than its name – that matters.
He said: “This will put the city region in a much better position to support businesses to grow and create jobs.
“A new joint venture company, jointly owned by Langtree and the council, has acquired the freehold of Parkside, one of the most strategic sites in the north west, which I am sure will be one of the projects to benefit from a combined authority.”
In response to queries about the name, a spokeswoman from the Department for Communities and Local Government said: “A number of responses to the consultation requested a change of name.
“Having taken account of all of the comments which have been made, the legal name in the draft Order now laid before Parliament is ‘the Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, St Helens, Sefton and Wirral Combined Authority’.
“If the authority wants to use something snappier as short-hand, that’s a matter for them.”