Hampshire leaders lobby government secretary Greg Clark over county’s combined authority proposal

Council leaders from Hampshire with local government minister Greg Clark, fourth left
Council leaders from Hampshire with local government minister Greg Clark, fourth left
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EFFORTS by Hampshire councils to join up and secure greater powers have stepped up a gear.

County leaders have lobbied local government minister Greg Clark over the importance of creating a Hampshire combined authority.

They stressed the importance of the authority having benefits including control over roads and motorways so they can make improvements – and the need to control housing numbers and unlock more land for business use was also put across.

Fareham borough leader Cllr Sean Woodward gave a presentation to Mr Clark on why it was key the authority had powers to build schools, highways and business sites.

He said the ability to introduce ‘smart’ motorways – which would see hard shoulders being converted to a traffic lane and signs being introduced telling drivers what speed to drive at – would improve major congestion issues on the M27.

He said: ‘The meeting was very positive.

‘There is now a lot of work to be done putting together a final application for a deal.

‘We were dealing with the four main aims of our proposal; which are housing, infrastructure, governance and enterprise.

‘I also spoke about the importance of forming a transport executive board to work with the train and bus companies to ensure they provide a good service for the area, but also to hold them to greater account.’

Cllr Woodward was joined on the trip to London by the leaders of Hampshire, Basingstoke, the Isle of Wight and Southampton.

Joining them was Geoff French, of the Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership.

Leaders also said it was crucial Hampshire was able to designate pockets of land as green belts as part of the deal – given the surge in development.

The need for a green belt has also been highlighted by the Hampshire branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England. A decision over Hampshire’s bid for a combined authority is not expected to be made until after Christmas.

Other applications from other regions meanwhile for super authorities will be made in the Chancellor’s upcoming Autumn Statement.