Council leaders in fresh row over new transport body

A FRESH row has broken out between council leaders over a new transport board.

Thursday, 15th December 2016, 6:00 am
Updated Thursday, 15th December 2016, 11:22 am
Cllr Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council

As Hampshire County Council’s cabinet committed to joining the newly-established body called the Shadow Sub National Transport Body for the South East, the authority’s leader, Councillor Roy Perry, hit out at both Portsmouth and Southampton city councils for not following suit.

Both the unitary authorities were invited to join the group, but declined as they wish to be a part of it as the Solent Combined Authority (SCA).

The new transport body is made up of seven local authorities across the south east of England and aims to influence government ministers when it comes to decisions affecting transport and infrastructure across the region.

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Cllr Roy Perry, leader of Hampshire County Council

Cllr Perry said in the meeting on Monday: ‘I think it is a matter of regret that Portsmouth and Southampton have not signed up to it as they wish to participate in it as a combined authority.

‘I would like to remind them that they are not one, that it does not exist and if they want to participate in this then it has to be as they are at present.’

Cllr Perry added his ‘personal regret’ the two city councils had not signed up to the body.

In response to the comments, Cllr Jones replied: ‘It is deeply disappointing to hear that the county council is of the opinion that it would not permit the combined authority to join the board.

Cllr Roy Perry, leader of Hampshire County Council

‘I think the county council is still in denial over the movement that the government is pushing towards devolution.’

The row continues a long-running difference of opinion over devolution, and how money from central government should be shared out.

Portsmouth and Southampton councils want to join up with the Isle of Wight to form the SCA.

But Cllr Perry wants Hampshire to be one combined authority, a proposal Portsmouth and Southampton councils say will give them less of a say on local issues.

Separate consultations have been run to ask members of the public for their thoughts, and the plans are to be determined by ministers.

Hampshire County Council’s cabinet appointed Cllr Rob Humby, its executive member for transport, to act as its representative on the new board.

A total of £20,000 was also committed by the cabinet to help set up the group.