Calls for referendum over Portsmouth’s involvement in proposed Solent combined authority

An aerial shot of the Solent area
An aerial shot of the Solent area
Have your say

A REFERENDUM should be held to decide if Portsmouth will become part of a super-authority with an elected mayor.

Lib Dems on Portsmouth City Council say they are growing increasingly concerned that key decisions over the city’s future are being made by a select few – and not the public.

There’s a lack of transparency and involvement with the residents of Portsmouth in making decisions about Portsmouth.

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Portsmouth Lib Dem group leader

Tory council leaders in the Solent region want to form a committee known as the combined authority, which would control a pot of government money to spend on major improvements.

The authority would be chaired by an elected mayor who would have the final say over where the cash is spent.

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Lib Dem group leader, is leading calls for a referendum, and is concerned the city’s ruling Tory cabinet is taking all the decisions.

But Tory council leader, Cllr Donna Jones, has criticised her rivals for playing political games. It comes ahead of a cabinet meeting today to go over the plans.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: ‘There’s a lack of transparency and involvement with the residents of Portsmouth in making decisions about Portsmouth.

‘This is a change in the constitution and it’s about power coming down from London. But also it’s taking power away from Portsmouth.

‘Portsmouth won’t be able to sort out what happens to its main roads. That will happen somewhere else.

‘So we should be asking people what they think about this. We’re doing this more undemocratically than anywhere else.

‘In Southampton, all of the councillors are being part of the discussion, yet in Portsmouth there is no debate at full council. I’m concerned about us concentrating power in the hands of one person.’

Cllr Jones said it will be for the Tory cabinet to decide what happens.

She said: ‘I’m disappointed once again that the Lib Dems are playing politics with such a key and important issue. Gerald Vernon-Jackson as leader of the opposition has not ever raised the prospect of a referendum.’

Cllr Jones and other leaders met local government secretary Greg Clark in Bournemouth this week and have written to him saying they expect to consult over their plans in the summer.