THE leader of Worcestershire County Council says it would be his "greatest failure" if he allowed Birmingham to swallow part of his authority up in a power grab.

Councillor Adrian Hardman has waded into the debate over a 'Greater Birmingham' by saying he would not oversee "a dismemberment" of Worcestershire under any circumstances.

The Conservative leader has come under pressure from members of his own group, who want assurances Worcestershire will not shrink to accommodate the Second City's bid to get more power and influence from London.

Politicians in Birmingham and the Black Country have already agreed to form a combined authority after the General Election in the hope of getting more devolved powers from Whitehall.

But the radical changes expected in local government could go even deeper, with the Labour Party suggesting a 'City region' covering a newly-formed Greater Birmingham region could get millions of extra funding.

Such a move would leave parts of north Worcestershire vulnerable, which in turn raises concerns about the county at risk of shrinking.

Cllr Hardman took part in a Q&A at County Hall, where Tory Councillor Kit Taylor asked him to lay out his view.

Cllr Taylor said: "Birmingham is flexing its muscles with this 'greater federation of Birmingham'.

"If they are trying to swallow up, possibly the north of the county, I want his views on if that going to have an affect on what we're trying to do?"

He said many people in Worcestershire are concerned and "conscious of this very large giant on our shoulder" potentially trying to get bigger.

Cllr Hardman said: "Quite obviously it wouldn't be a positive step forward.

"As leader of the county council I suspect the dismemberment of the county is quite possibly the greatest failure you can have as leader."

He also said he would block any attempts to try and take a 'City region' creation into the county's borders.

"I suspect there are bigger (failures) if I thought about it, but this would certainly be in the top five," he said.

As your Worcester News revealed last month, talks are still ongoing about creating a new authority for Worcestershire ready to take more funding and power from central Government.

But it would be an over-arching body sitting above the existing district councils and the county council, rather than anything which replaced the existing structure.

The whole 'devolved power' argument for English regions only really got seriously underway in the aftermath of the Scottish referendum.