CONTROVERSIAL plans for Halton to be included in a Liverpool 'super city' have received the backing of the Government and could be put into operation within a year.

Halton - alongside Liverpool, Wirral, Sefton, Knowsley and St Helens - will form a sub-regional cabinet to decide key policies and strategies for what will be known as the Liverpool City region.

It will be the biggest shake-up in local decision-making since the reorganisation of local government in 1974 and could be operational in just a year.

Local Government Minister Phil Woolas met the leaders and chief executives of the six councils to discuss regional devolution.

Eventually, the city region could be extended to take in Chester, Ellesmere Port and Neston, Warrington and West Lancashire.

Mr Woolas revealed a proportion of the city region's business rates would be handed to the cabinet to spend locally. A pool of cash will also be available to the body to spend locally.

The Government has ruled out prospects of a city region mayor running the area but will instead endorse a cabinet.

The chairman of the body will be rotated between the six leaders.

Halton Borough Council's leader, Cllr Tony McDermott, said:

'There is increasing cohesion and clarity in the sub-regional proposals.

'The issues where we can work together to everyone's advantage - economic regeneration, inward investment, transport, waste disposal, health and resilience services - are developing well.

'So is the willingness of all our parties to work together and sort out differences and priorities. There is a clear wish to keep local issues with the separate local authorities - education, community, neighbourhood and leisure.

'Certainly the view is that we can work with our major city, Liverpool, without being run by Liverpool - and that is where we all agree.'