Gosport councillors agree to town supporting devolution

Gosport council leader Mark Hook
Gosport council leader Mark Hook
Chancellor Philip Hammond. Picture: Getty

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  • Gosport Borough Council agrees to carry on supporting devolution
  • The council is working with other authorities in Hampshire to gain more power from central government
  • But fears were discussed of the council losing its identity
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COUNCILLORS agreed to support devolution among authorities in the Solent.

Gosport Borough Council voted on the matter at its full council meeting yesterday and agreed to the town carrying on talks alongside other councils.

The danger is that if this works well, someone might question whether we need individual councils and why not make one big council.

Councillor Peter Edgar

Leader Mark Hook is working with council leaders from Portsmouth, Fareham, Havant and other districts in Hampshire in a bid to bring about the devolution of powers from central government.

Councillor Peter Egdar supported the matter but said he wants to see the councils remain autonomous.

‘I do welcome Gosport working with the other councils. I think we’ve led the way with the partnership we have with Fareham and how we’ve worked together in some areas,’ he said.

‘I think there is confusion that councils will be losing their autonomy and identity.

‘I hope that isn’t the case. The danger is that if this works well, someone might question whether we need individual councils and why not make one big council.

‘If that happens, we would have lost local democracy.’

Leader of the Labour party Councillor June Cully raised concerns about the structure of the people making the decisions.

She said: ‘While we feel we can see the benefits of devolution, we are keen to be involved in how the structure of this devolved power will come about.

‘What we don’t want to see is a group at the top who make the decision and then send it down to us.’

But Cllr Hook said the group behind the idea of devolution, the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Government Association, would want to keep a two-tiered system.

‘As far as we are concerned, we believe democracy is best served in a two-tier system,’ he said.

‘This meeting is for Gosport council to continue to work with other authorities to develop a proposal to allow devolved powers.’

Devolution would allow the councils more control over planning, highways, further education and health.