ST HELENS Council leader Barrie Grunewald will take his seat at the first meeting of the newly created Liverpool City Region Combined Authority next week.
He will be joined at Mann Island, Liverpool, on Tuesday, April 1 by leaders of the four other member local authorities and the elected mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson.
The meetings are open to the public.
The combined authority – which had the unanimous backing of St Helens councillors – will focus on developing regional economic growth, transport and creating more jobs.
It does not replace local government or local decision making.
Among the first tasks of Councillor Grunewald and his political colleagues at the meetings – which are open to the public - will be selecting a chair and vice chair of the authority.
Robert Hough, chairman of the region’s Local Enterprise Partnership will also sit on the committee, to help the two organisations form links with businesses.
Critics fear the authority could damage the identities of places such as St Helens and that it will become Liverpool centric.
Some feel local town centres have been hit hard by the emergence of major shopping zones, such as Liverpool One.
But its supporters suggest the city’s surrounding towns could reap rewards from better transport links and spin offs from investments and the ‘Liverpool brand’.
In a statement, Knowsley Council, which handles media enquiries for the new organisation, said: “It (the authority) will provide clear leadership and greater transparency, while creating a legal entity which would be in a position to attract funding and devolved powers from Government, including accessing the £2bn Local Growth Fund.”
The HS2 action plan and the Liverpool City Region Growth Plan are among significant items up for discussion at its first meetings.
The growth plan aims to boost businesses and create jobs by focusing on the city region’s strengths and ensuring it capitalises on opportunities such as the £340m Liverpool 2 development.
Strategic projects include Liverpool City Region Freight and Logistics Hub, Liverpool City Centre, Access to the Port of Liverpool, Liverpool City Region Low Carbon Region and a City Region Capital Investment Fund to co-invest in key capital schemes that will deliver jobs.
There had been some debate over the naming of the authority after it was registered by the Government as the Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, St Helens, Sefton and Wirral Combined Authority’.
However, a spokeswoman said that “for operational business, it will be known as the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority”.
The agenda and papers will be available seven days before the meeting at www.knowsley.gov.uk.