A year of events are being planned to celebrate Halton’s 50th anniversary next year, with grants being made available to help people mark the occasion.

The borough of Halton was officially formed on April 1, 1974 but before that Widnes was administered by the Municipal Borough of Widnes in Lancashire, and Runcorn by Runcorn Urban District Council in Cheshire. Both were combined together following a shake-up of how areas of England were administered.

The name of the new district was inspired by the ancient Barony of Halton which had possessed land on both sides of the river. On April 1, 1998 there was a further development when Halton became a unitary authority, independent of Cheshire County Council.

To recognise the occasion, there are plans for Halton Borough Council, external organisations and groups to hold activities and events throughout 2024.

The council said the aim is to involve as many schools, local community groups and individuals as possible and small grants will be available to assist in the planning and delivery of activities.

A temporary externally-funded culture officer post has also been created, utilising UK Share Prosperity Funding. The officer will assist in the preparations for the celebrations, working alongside staff in Halton Council’s leisure services department.

A report to the council, said: "The 50th anniversary activities and events managed by Halton Borough Council will be funded using a grant already secured from the UK Share Prosperity Funding, a small amount of council funding from the existing events budget and from applications to external funders such as the Heritage Lottery Fund, should they be successful."

It said no additional funding would be sought from council coffers and that grants will be offered to groups to assist in their activities.

It said other cultural organisations such as Norton Priory and Hazlehurst Studios will host and fund their own events as their contribution to mark the occasion.

It added that the council would also seek sponsorship from the private sector and in return, their brands would be promoted at any event they support.

The report also anticipates some opposition to the idea of spending council money on events. It said such opposition had been encountered over its running of the fireworks display in 2022 and this year.

But added: “However, given there is a cost-of-living crisis, providing a number of activities and events that are free and providing support to local community groups with grants, can only benefit the local community directly."