COUNCILS across the region will come together today to shed more light over plans to form a Solent combined authority ruled by an elected mayor.
The leaders of Portsmouth, Southampton and the Isle of Wight are getting together at The Civic Centre in Southampton for a press briefing over the ambitious project.
The aspiration is for a new authority to be created which Solent councils to sit on, giving them control over a big pot of government money to spend on major improvements in the region. A mayor would be appointed to control the budget and have the final say over how the cash is spent.
Council leaders have spent months working on the plans, which they say is about securing more powers from the government and having greater control over what happens locally. They want to see less decisions over public spending made in Whitehall.
The combined authority would not replace any of the councils involved nor take over any of their existing powers.
Speaking last week about the bid, Cllr Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council, said: ‘The Solent Combined Authority would secure £30m a year for us to spend on improving local roads, public areas, housing and job creation benefiting residents of Portsmouth, Southampton and the Isle of Wight.
‘This is a really positive and exciting step forward for residents and businesses in South Hampshire and can give them better opportunities and outcomes for years to come. After months of hard work we finally have something we can show to the public and I’m keen we get the opinions of as many people as possible from across our area.’
The Solent combined authority move is at odds with the aspirations of Hampshire County Council, which would rather see a new super unitary Hampshire council created swallowing up all of the districts in the county. The county is also opposed to the creation of a mayoral position controlling government spend.
Hampshire County Council leader, Cllr Roy Perry, caused controversy after saying the south of Hampshire should not be in charge of economic development when it forms the ‘poorest’ part of the county. Though the senior Tory later apologised for causing offence.