Hampshire County Council leader urges people to have say on consultation
THE leader of Hampshire County Council is urging people to take part in its consultation over devolved powers from government.
The county council wants to create a super unitary authority which would control all districts – including Havant, Gosport and Fareham – and rule Hampshire outside Portsmouth and Southampton.
It could then control a pot of cash from central government to spend on projects.
However, the move has been criticised by the leaders of Havant, Gosport and Fareham.
They say they have not been properly consulted over the idea and prefer the plan for a combined Solent authority, which would see the three boroughs form a committee including Southampton, Portsmouth, the Isle of Wight and Eastleigh, with an elected mayor.
Councillor Roy Perry, leader of Hampshire County Council, says it is vital people in the area give their thoughts on what they want to see happen.
He added any decisions will not be made until after the public have their say.
It comes the day after Portsmouth, Southampton and the Isle of Wight councils launched a consultation on proposals for a combine Solent authority.
Cllr Perry said: ‘The consultation is very open.
‘We are not putting forward a preferred solution.
‘In that respect our consultation is very different from the Solent combined authority proposals where they seem to have already come up a plan.
‘We want to know what the people want before we come up with a proposal.’
The eight-week consultation, which started yesterday, is for people living in the area governed by Hampshire County Council including Fareham, Gosport and Havant.
Members of the public are invited to answer questions on a number of options involving proposals to create combined authorities, elected mayors and unitary councils, as well as the status quo.
Cllr Perry added: ‘We are continuously having to save money and retain the levels of services.
‘Hampshire has a very good level of service.
‘The clear worry that we have got is by dividing the county, it could put at peril the very good services that we are associated with.
‘We need to look at the different options available.
‘By keeping a two-tier system with the district councils, that is costing around £40m a year. That money could be saved if we go with one authority.
‘But people might save that the districts are so important it is worth paying that money to keep that level of democracy and bureaucracy.’
Once the consultation has ended and the comments analysed, the county council will hold talks with the government about their options going forward.
To comment on the county council consultation visit hants.gov.uk/servinghampshire
The Solent authority consultation is at solentdeal.co.uk