Merseyside leaders have signed a devolution deal with government worth some £900m over 30 years that will see a directly elected mayor take power in 2017.
The deal for the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority provides a similar package of transport powers as seen in Manchester, the North East, Tees Valley and most recently the West Midlands.
As with other deals, the agreement hands over a devolved and consolidated local transport budget to the region with a multiyear settlement to be agreed at the Spending Review.
Responsibility for franchised bus services will be granted, subject to the proposed Buses Bill, and a Key Route Network of local roads will be managed by the combined authority on behalf of the mayor from May 2017.
Control of £30m a year from government over 30 years will help establish a local investment fund ‘to unlock the economic potential of the River Mersey and Super Port as well as maximise the opportunities from HS2’, the devolution document states.
The devolution and financing proposals are subject to ratification from the Liverpool City Region's individual local authorities and legislation.
Cllr Phil Davies, chair of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, said: ‘I believe that it is the best deal we can secure at this time for the benefit of the Liverpool City Region. Each respective council will be meeting on Thursday 19 November 2015 and I hope that – like me – my colleagues will be recommending that their authorities agree the deal.’
The devolution document also reveals: ‘Through the Spending Review, the Government will establish a long term Special Rail Grant Settlement for the Merseyrail network. This increased funding certainty will allow Merseytravel to separately progress the locally funded procurement of new trains for the Merseyrail network. This will replace the Merseyrail Electrics rolling stock with newer, faster trains and more capacity.’
Ministers have also encouraged Merseyside leaders to bring forward proposals for devolved control of local rail stations and wider infrastructure assets.