Council boss ‘wants to be involved’ in county combined authority

Councillor Sean Woodward.
Councillor Sean Woodward.
Cllr Clive Foster-Reed using his phone throughout a Gosport Borough Council planning meeting. Picture: David George

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THE creation of a combined authority including all councils in the county could be more beneficial than a Solent Combined Authority, according to some councillors.

The news comes after the chairman of Hampshire County Council, Cllr Roy Perry, asked for councils to unite to create a ‘supercouncil’ for devolved powers last month, with powers to fall across the county.

But talks are still ongoing between Portsmouth, Southampton and the Isle of Wight for a combined authority with an elected mayor – which would not include Hampshire County Council.

Leader of Fareham Borough Council Cllr Sean Woodward says that a county-wide authority would make the creation of infrastructure for upcoming developments much easier.

Cllr Woodward said: ‘I have always supported the idea of a combined authority and am disappointed that one hasn’t come into being.

‘The government summoned us to the treasury three years ago but nothing was ever done about it.

‘A combined authority allows for additional powers to be brought down to the area.

‘To be involved in something like that would allow councils to organise things like further education, job centres and to invest in infrastructure.

‘That would give us the power to support the housing developments that we need in the area, so the concept for a combined authority is something I have always supported.’

But leader of Gosport Borough Council Cllr Mark Hook is a bit more cautious, saying that if it were to be implemented, Gosport would have to get a good deal.

He said: ‘I think if it is going to be implemented across Hampshire then we need to see how the people of Gosport would benefit.

‘If funding is coming in then we need to see what is on the table and what could do with that money in Gosport, then negotiate the best deal for residents in the borough.’