THE bid by Hampshire’s councils to join up and secure greater powers has been thrown into jeopardy due to differences in how it can be achieved.
Portsmouth Tory leader Donna Jones says it is proving ‘virtually impossible’ for everyone to come to an agreement over how to manage greater control of services given by the government.
The basis on which the devolution plan has been worked up makes it extremely difficult because of the number of complex bodies involved.Councillor Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council
Councils last year revealed plans to create a combined authority which could have control over housing numbers and decide how money should be spent on schools, roads and public health.
The original plan was for Solent councils to link up, but now leaders are pushing for a Hampshire-wide and Isle of Wight scheme.
But a vote taken by council leaders on Friday saw the idea of an elected mayor to be appointed dictating where money should be spent in the county thrown out.
And Cllr Jones warned the government is only taking seriously applications from areas that want a mayor to oversee a combined authority.
And she blamed the ‘confusing’ mix of authorities in the area, made up of city unitary councils, districts and a county authority for the lack of progress.
She said: ‘The basis on which the devolution plan has been worked up makes it extremely difficult because of the number of complex bodies involved.
‘It’s virtually impossible to achieve an equal platform when everyone is at different levels. Portsmouth City Council has unanimously agreed that the current proposal for devolution, for Hampshire and Isle of Wight, won’t work as it is too confusing and needs to be simplified.’
Cllr Sean Woodward, Fareham leader, said: ‘The decision was taken to not support an elected mayor for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
‘We have made an offer to the government for devolution and we are still waiting on a counter offer.