Hampshire CC is set to vote tomorrow on whether to counteract a devolution bid by three neighbouring unitary councils and resubmit a proposal for a combined authority without an elected mayor.
Hampshire leader Roy Perry (Con) has written to the leaders of the county’s 11 districts seeking renewed support for a bid submitted in September 2015 for a combined authority spanning Hampshire, and including unitaries Southampton and Portsmouth city councils, and Isle of Wight Council.
Hampshire to vote on renewed non-mayoral devo bid
Southampton and Portsmouth city councils and Isle of Wight Council are still waiting for a response from housing and communities secretary Sajid Javid on a proposal to create a Solent CA with a mayor, which was submitted last autumn.
Cllr Perry warned a successful “Solent City” bid would “almost certainly” lead to the break-up of the county. That is because Fareham and Gosport BCs would be invited to become non-voting members of the CA, along with Hampshire CC and the county’s six other districts.
Cllr Perry said he will invite Southampton, Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight to join the non-mayoral bid instead.
“We strongly believe there is scope for enhancing the original combined authority bid to cover more co-operation between all tiers of local government, on housing delivery and with the health authorities, particularly for social care - but this would be in the context of a combined authority, not a mayoral combined authority, or a unitary council,” Cllr Perry said.
Cllr Perry said Mr Javid had assured him that he would not impose a devolution deal in the county without Hampshire’s agreement.
He added: “Disrupting a county like Hampshire would be a very expensive and time-consuming exercise. It would also devastate some of the best local government services in the country.
“My view is that it is Hampshire’s scale and capacity that has enabled it to avoid the really severe financial problems being faced in other parts of the country, such as in Northamptonshire.”
The Hampshire proposal, which was abandoned in 2015 when the Isle of Wight withdrew its support, would be for an extra £30m a year from central government.
A motion to renew the Hampshire-wide bid will be considered at a meeting of full council tomorrow.
Council leaders behind the Solent bid have expressed frustration at the government delay in deciding on a “desperately needed” deal, after Mr Javid admitted his department had been slow in taking decisions.