A POWERFUL new body could be formed across Worcestershire to help unlock hundreds of millions of pounds in Government funding, it has emerged.

Your Worcester News can reveal how councils across the county could team up to create a new "vehicle" to grab extra powers from Whitehall.

A new vision for Worcestershire has been outlined by Councillor Adrian Hardman, the county council leader, who wants to kick-start the negotiations this spring.

The aftermath of the Scottish 'no' vote in the referendum has left Prime Minister David Cameron considering greater devolution of powers to local areas, and Cllr Hardman wants Worcestershire to be ready to take advantage of it after the General Election.

Cllr Hardman says he wants control, budgets and power over four key areas for Worcestershire - transport, infrastructure planning like new roads, skills development and land planning.

For example, it could mean politicians and council officials in Worcestershire handed the authority to fund and direct colleges, draw up its own bus timetables, or create a bypass on its own terms and timescale.

In November Greater Manchester stole a march on the rest of the UK by sealing a £1 billion devolution deal with central Government, with powers handed down for transport and skills budgets including the famous tram network, which is being extended.

Birmingham and the Black Country have also agreed to form a new combined authority, but is embroiled in confusion over what to call it.

Cllr Hardman says Worcestershire must have talks over a body of its own, which would work hand-in-hand with the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

"It is absolutely clear to me that following the Scottish vote and the promise of further devolution, we need to be ready for it," he said.

"I think there will be plenty of meetings over the spring, we don't yet know what Westminster will hand over and the size and structure of these devolved powers, but Worcestershire must be 'in the game' and say to central Government 'yes, we want to be a part of this'."

Under the plan the talks would include district councils in Worcester, Wychavon and Malvern as well as the north Worcestershire authorities.

Cllr Hardman says each one will remain intact, with the new body an "overarching" authority ready to grab whatever powers are on offer and interact with central Government directly.

He has also written a report on it in his own words, saying Worcestershire must be ready to "exploit" the situation and have "a plan for our own destiny".

Councillor Paul Middlebrough, the leader of Wychavon District Council, said: "This isn't about local authorities looking after themselves, it's about what's best for Worcestershire."