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Leaders claim 'lack of courtesy' after devo bid rejected

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Council leaders behind the Solent devolution bid have criticised the government after hearing the proposal has been rejected through a local MP.

The leaders of Portsmouth and Southampton city councils, which two years ago along with Isle of Wight Council submitted a bid to create a combined authority with a mayor, said Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan (Lab) was informed in a letter from devolution minister Jake Berry that the “deal is not on the table”.

Portsmouth leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson (Lib Dem) accused the government of a lack of “courtesy” for not contacting the councils involved directly.

He added: “We have heard the reason is because MPs in other parts of Hampshire didn’t support the bid and without a majority the government couldn’t risk upsetting them.

“Government is prioritising the opinions of those few individuals over the views of more than 2,500 local people who responded to the consultation on the plans and showed clear support.”

Hampshire CC leader Roy Perry (Con) has previously voiced strong opposition to the Solent proposal as it would “split the county” and has written to Mr Berry to raise his concerns.

Southampton leader Christopher Hammond said he was pleased the government had finally provided a written response two years after the bid was submitted but criticised the approach.

He added: “After all the hard work that was put into a compelling and workable bid it’s extremely disappointing that they have apparently decided not to proceed with the deal which would have benefitted the lives of local people.

“I’d like to thank all the local residents who took the time to take part in our consultation and assure them that we will continue to make the case for greater powers and funding to be moved from central government to our city and region.”

The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government has been contacted for comment.



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