Government will now consider proposed Solent combined authority deal

A FORMAL bid is now being put to the government for a Solent combined authority linking the region's biggest councils.

Wednesday, 26th October 2016, 6:31 am
Updated Wednesday, 26th October 2016, 4:20 pm

It comes after Portsmouth, the Isle of Wight and Southampton’s leading councillors all ruled they want to sign up to the devolution deal.

The move would see the leaders of all three councils sit on a board that has control over government money.

They would have to answer to an elected mayor, a new role that has come under heavy scrutiny from critics who say the post would command a salary of £80,000 a year.

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Local government secretary Sajid Javid will receive the application and make a decision on whether to take it forward.

Should it go ahead, the next step would be to agree the details of the proposal to be put before parliament.

Councillor Donna Jones, Portsmouth leader, said: ‘It is tremendous news that all three councils involved have now agreed to progress plans for a Solent Combined Authority.

‘This is something that will deliver huge benefits for residents of Portsmouth, Southampton and the Isle of Wight, and we can now begin the formal application process with government.’

But district councils say they won’t rush to sign up.

Gosport and Havant borough officials say they want to see more details first.

But Fareham leader, Councillor Sean Woodward, says he’s eager to get on board.

Cllr Mark Hook, leader of Gosport Borough Council, said: ‘Once we have a better understanding, we will take it to full council to discuss whether we want to be part of it or not.

‘If funding for post 19 education became available through this, that would secure the future of St Vincent College.’

Havant Ukip group leader Cllr John Perry said: ‘What I fear, is whether the devolution of powers from central government brings new money.’

Cllr Woodward said: ‘The important factor in this is the economic growth of south Hampshire.

‘That’s critical.’