BILLIONS of pounds worth of economic growth is at risk as a result of ‘devolution deadlock’ across the country, the Local Government Association has warned.

Since 2015, Cheshire West and Chester, Cheshire East and Warrington Councils, along with the Local Enterprise Partnership, have been working towards a devolution deal for the sub-region.

September 4 marked two years since the Government deadline for local areas to submit devolution proposals.

The LGA has now expressed concerns that devolution progress has since stalled with no new deals announced for 18 months, despite many areas being keen to press forward with negotiations.

It has called on the Government to urgently publish its annual devolution report, setting out progress on negotiating deals, following the return of Parliament.

Cllr Mark Hawthorne, chairman of the LGA’s People and Places Board, said: “Councils want to see their communities reap the benefits of having greater powers and funding to build more homes, secure the infrastructure essential to economic growth, improve our roads, equip people with the skills they need to succeed and increase access to fast and reliable digital connectivity for all.

“But there are concerns that devolution discussions have stalled and opportunities are being missed.

“To reignite the devolution process, the Government needs to engage in a debate about appropriate governance arrangements with local areas.

“This is fundamental to ensure that the momentum around devolving powers to local areas is not lost and the billions of pounds worth of economic growth, hundreds of thousands of jobs and homes on offer through non-metropolitan devolution deals is not lost with it.”

Mike Amesbury, Weaver Vale MP, said Cheshire is in danger of being ‘left behind’ by neighbouring regions.

He called for a variety of options to be discussed as part of devolution talks.

Mr Amesbury said: “When it comes to decisions about our area – we are better placed than Whitehall to make them.

“Central government must give us the power and resources to make this happen – but without demanding that the only way to do this is through a directly elected mayor.

“The Liverpool City Region and Greater Manchester are rightly forging ahead with their plans to take the areas forward – but welcome as this progress is, my concern is that without the same powers, Cheshire could be left behind”

“True devolution and local decision making shouldn’t only be restricted to powers and funding – it has to be about governance too.

“We need a ‘no strings attached’ debate about devolution that allows us to consider a variety of options – in addition to the existing mayoral model – so that we can choose the approach that suits Cheshire best.”