THOUSANDS of people have had their say on plans to form a Solent Combined Authority giving leaders extra powers to improve the region.
Since July, Portsmouth Southampton and the Isle of Wight councils have been consulting residents over the ambitious deal.
The Solent Combined Authority would secure £30m a year every year for the next 30 years, so that’s £900m to spend on improving roads, helping create jobs and delivering good quality new homes.Councillor Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council
The proposed authority would take on responsibility for services currently managed by the government and receive £900m over the next 30 years.
This will allow decisions to be made locally rather than in Westminster, with a focus on driving economic growth, improving transport links and the creation of new homes.
However, there are concerns that the deal is largely based on an ‘accelerated rate of house building’ – and decisions about Portsmouth will be taken from outside of the city.
The consultation closed at 5pm on Sunday – with more than 2,000 people giving their opinions.
Cllr Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council, said: ‘The combined authority would secure £30m a year every year for the next 30 years, so that’s £900m to spend on improving roads, helping create jobs and delivering good quality new homes.
‘This will benefit the residents of Portsmouth, Southampton and the Isle of Wight.
‘This is a positive and exciting step forward for residents and businesses in south Hampshire which will give them better opportunities for years to come.’
The plans will now go to the full council meetings for the three councils involved, ahead of each cabinet making a decision on submitting a formal bid to government.
Raising concerns, Portsmouth Lib Dem leader, Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said: ‘The deal is based on having an accelerated rate of house building, and decisions over how many will be built will be taken away.
‘And there is concern over who makes the decision. In Portsmouth, eight people (the Tory cabinet) will make the decision whether we are in the combined authority.
‘Our view is, this is a major constitutional change for people in our area.’
Key components of proposed government deal
THE draft deal for the Solent Combined Authority, to be ruled by an elected mayor, includes the following powers and responsibilities for the areas involved;
n £900m funding for the area over 30 years.
n Keeping all business rates generated (approximately £210m) while leaving the current system of government funding for local councils.
n Increasing productivity and creating more jobs.
n Control of the budget for adult education and training in the area.
n Development of a new programme to help the hardest-to-help claimants back into work and provide them with support.
n Delivering new homes.
n Control of a dedicated transport budget, opportunities for franchised bus services and key network of local authority maintained roads.
n ‘Innovative and integrated approaches’ to public service reform, including health.