PROPOSALS to devolve more power to Hampshire and create a ‘southern powerhouse’ have been submitted to the government.
All 15 local authority leaders met this week to finalise a 38-page report that is now in the Chancellor’s in-tray.
The plan states a combined authority would be a ‘golden opportunity’.
It would give the county new powers over transport, housing, health, the economy, and business rates.
The letter states there will be ‘no expensive reorganisation’ and the aim was to ‘reduce bureaucracy’.
The plan would see Hampshire become more financially self-sufficient, freeing itself from the government grants that have dwindled in recent years.
This is a pivotal moment for Hampshire and the Isle of WightSean Woodward
By retaining all of the business rates paid locally – currently around half goes to Whitehall – it could create millions of pounds’ worth of revenue to spend on local services and strategic improvements, such as park-and-ride services and motorway junction improvements.
Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council, said she believed the government support grant could disappear within a decade and it was time to decentralise.
She said: ‘We put more into the UK economy than we get out. For the people of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight we will be keeping more of our own money and spending it on looking after people in this area.’
She added: ‘Every council will remain exactly as it is. I will still have my budget. We will govern ourselves but this just means where we normally have to negotiate with the government for new stuff I will be sitting on the combined authority board.’
Fareham leader Cllr Sean Woodward said it was a ‘pivotal moment’.
He added: ‘We have seen devolution deals in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and now it is the turn of England.
‘Our area has a population of around 2m people and it is right they too should have decisions made by their locally-elected representatives rather than by faceless bureaucrats in Whitehall.’