Combined Solent authority: Your questions answered

An aerial view of the Solent  Picture: Shaun Roster
An aerial view of the Solent Picture: Shaun Roster
Portsmouth Port. Photo by Chris Pearsall

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Here are the key questions and answers on the plan for a combined Solent authority.

Council leaders say they want members of the public to have their say on the proposals.

WHAT EXACTLY WOULD A COMBINED SOLENT AUTHORITY DO?

The Solent Combined Authority would see the leaders of Portsmouth City Council, Southampton City Council and Isle of Wight Council sit in a ‘cabinet’ and provide a strategic base for funding across the three areas, with Fareham, Gosport and Havant councils likely to join.

They will allocate areas to provide funding for infrastructure and highlight certain areas to deal with housing demand.

HOW IS IT DIFFERENT TO THE CURRENT SYSTEM?

Currently, Portsmouth, Southampton and the Isle of Wight all have their own councils to govern these respective areas.

This would not change. The only difference would be that a Combined Authority would be able to bring in further funding and oversee strategies for all three areas.

They would work closely, meet regularly and highlight key areas across the three places where investment and improvements are needed.

HOW MUCH MONEY ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?

The councils have negotiated a deal with the Treasury that would see a combined authority receive £30m every year over the course of 30 years.

This is £900m in total and would be used to fund infrastructure, transport and housing across all three areas.

Portsmouth City Council’s leader Councillor Donna Jones said that the combined authority would look for around £1.5bn over the next 30 years in funding (including the £900m).

WHO WOULD LEAD IT?

If the public backs the proposals, it would be led by a directly-elected mayor, who would chair a cabinet made up of the leaders of each of the councils involved.

If it is approved, it would be led on a rolling six-month basis by one of the council’s leaders until a mayor was elected.

This could take place next summer or in the summer of 2018.

WHO ELSE COULD JOIN?

In addition to Portsmouth City Council, Southampton City Council, Isle of Wight Council, the borough councils of south Hampshire have also expressed an interest in the proposals.

These are Fareham Borough Council, Havant Borough Council, Gosport Borough Council, East Hampshire Borough Council and Eastleigh Borough Council.

WHAT’S THE POINT?

The councils say that it’s all about making sure local decision-making takes place at a local level.

The UK has one of the most centralised systems of government in the world, but if this plan goes ahead, this would move certain powers away from Westminster so that locally-elected officials could make decisions.

The councils have looked at examples in the north of England such as the Greater Manchester Combined Authority for examples on how the system would work.

WHAT POWERS COULD IT HAVE?

The draft deal for the Combined Authority includes the following powers and responsibilities:

Keeping all business rates generated in the area and leaving the current system of government funding for local councils.

Power to create a spatial plan.

Increase productivity and create more jobs and better jobs by simplifying and strengthening support for business growth, innovation, global trade and investment.

Control of the budget for adult education and training in the area, enabling a focus on the skills businesses want people to have.

Delivering new homes for the area.

Control of a dedicated transport budget, franchised bus services.

Innovative and integrated approaches to public service reform, including health.

WHEN COULD IT BE BROUGHT FORWARD?

If residents and businesses support the proposals, then a formal bid could be put to government this autumn with a Solent Combined Authority in place as early as next spring.

WHAT DO I DO NOW?

To comment on the proposals, all you need to do is head to solentdeal.co.uk and take part in the consultation.

You can comment up until September 18.