WARRINGTON Borough Council's leader fears devolution is currently 'not on the cards' for Cheshire and Warrington because the Government 'has gone cold on it'.

In January, the town's Labour group voted for the borough to team up with Cheshire West and Chester Council and Cheshire East Council in a devolution deal – instead of the Liverpool City Region.

Council leader Cllr Terry O'Neill discussed plans for the area during a meeting with Northern Powerhouse minister Jake Berry in London last month.

But he left the discussions feeling less than pleased.

During Monday's full council meeting, he said: "As far as devolution is concerned, this Government has gone cold on it.

"They don't know where they are with it.

"We met with Jake Berry but I personally thought the meeting was not very optimistic.

"As far as I am concerned, devolution is not on the cards at the moment.

"I personally think that because we have elected mayors in Manchester and Liverpool, there could be a very powerful swathe of mayors if we get devolution."

During his visit to Warrington last Thursday, Mr Berry said he was pleased with how the meeting went.

He added: "Only a week and a half ago, the leader of the Local Enterprise Partnership and the leader of the council came to see me in London, so Warrington is definitely very much at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse.

"We are having regular meetings which is great."

Cllr O'Neill (LAB – Burtonwood and Winwick) has previously stated that he believes a devolution deal with the Cheshire authorities would go towards filling the borough's funding gap and deliver investment in key services and infrastructure.

Warrington South MP Faisal Rashid, along with MPs Justin Madders, Chris Matheson and Mike Amesbury, also met with Mr Berry in Westminster on Wednesday.

Mr Rashid said: "It was great to meet with minister Berry and I am thankful to him for taking the time to discuss important issues with myself and my colleagues.

"We discussed the devolution deal for Cheshire and Warrington and the minister assured me that the department is still producing a proposed devolution framework for the UK and that the Government continues to make progress with devolution deals.

"We also discussed the tolls on the Mersey Gateway and the sense of injustice many of our constituents are feeling, in part owed to the broken promise from former Chancellor George Osborne and in part owed to the regional disparity of tolls across the UK.

"We spoke about the the damage the introduction of the toll will do to the local economy and the Government's failure to recognise the crossing as a potential economic corridor, helping to build the Northern Powerhouse the minister is responsible for.

"My colleagues and I also raised the issue of poor signage towards the Mersey Gateway that is causing many of my constituents to be fined for using the toll, or indeed some to drive over the bridge without even realising it is tolled.

"Minister Berry assured me and my colleagues that he would enter discussions with the Department for Transport about what can be done next to ease the burden from our constituents in the short term and in the longer and medium terms.

"He agreed a follow-up meeting in the new year to discuss any progress and I look forward to meeting with him then."