Super council talk dismissed by city leaders

The idea of a combined authority representing the Solent region has been dismissed. ''Picture: Shaun Roster
The idea of a combined authority representing the Solent region has been dismissed. ''Picture: Shaun Roster
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CITY leaders have dismissed the idea of a combined authority representing the Solent region.

It comes after the leader of Southampton City Council, Councillor Simon Letts, revealed he is to meet Portsmouth’s leader Cllr Donna Jones to discuss the idea further.

It would see heads of local councils coming together as one body with a range of extra powers, which could then lead to a ‘metro mayor’ being appointed with more control of public spending.

But Cllr Jones doesn’t think any alliance between Portsmouth and Southampton is an option, and instead councils should stay as they are and work together to obtain more powers from the government.

‘I don’t envisage necessarily a collaboration between Portsmouth and Southampton, but we need to be talking about the wider authority agenda,’ she said.

‘This concerns the devolution of central government power.

‘At the moment we have got a national planning policy framework which dictates what we do with sites like St James’ Hospital.’

The idea has been mooted in Southampton after George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced plans to create the first ‘metro mayor’ in Greater Manchester, which contains ten councils and has control of £2bn worth of public funds.

Other councils have been encouraged to come forward and follow Manchester’s lead.

Cllr Sean Woodward, Hampshire County Council’s executive member for economy, transport and environment, said the role of Partnership for Urban South Hampshire (Push), which sees local authorities work together to promote growth, already does work similar to what is being suggested.

Cllr Woodward, Push chairman, said: ‘We have got Push anyway, which is an integrated community and 
has powers delegated to it 
from across the constituency areas.’

Push will hold a seminar about devolution of power on December 2.