Leaders call on residents to share thoughts on Solent '˜cabinet' for south Hampshire

PORTSMOUTH residents have been urged to share their views on a consultation into creating a '˜Solent cabinet' today following a press briefing this morning.

Tuesday, 26th July 2016, 3:08 pm
Updated Tuesday, 26th July 2016, 4:09 pm
(L-R) Councillor Jonathan Bacon, leader of Isle of Wight Council, Councillor Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council and Councillor Simon Letts, leader of Southampton City Council at Southampton's Civic Centre PPP-160726-143709001

Councillor Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council, Councillor Simon Letts, leader of Southampton City Council and Councillor Jonathan Bacon, leader of Isle of Wight Council outlined their plans for a Solent Combined Authority (SCA) in the briefing at the Civic Centre in Southampton.

Among the topics discussed was the idea that an elected mayor would head up the SCA and be held accountable for the decisions taken.

The combined authority itself would not replace any of the three councils, but would be represented by the respective heads of each council and take on responsibility for managing services currently managed by central government.

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Cllr Jones said: ‘I really want to know what the people of Portsmouth to share their thoughts on this new proposal.

‘It’s a great opportunity for them to really let us know what they think.

‘It is also important that they have their say on this as with a combined authority, we can bring in more jobs, affordable housing and bring in the necessary improvements to our infrastructure.’

Cllr Letts said: ‘We want to take control of resources that would be spent in Whitehall. This is about moving the Solent area forward.

‘Southampton and Portsmouth have a long and bitter rivalry on a number of levels but we think we can do better by working together to sell both areas to the rest of Europe and to the world.’

Cllr Bacon added: ‘In the history between the respective councils, we have never worked together more closely than we have on these proposals.’

If the proposals are approved, the authority could be in place by next Spring with an election for a mayor to take place either next summer or the following year.

In the interim, one of the three leaders would act as mayor, with the role rotating on a six month basis.

The area’s district councils have expressed an interest in the plans for the combined authority and would be asked to join the group, once the authority has been given the approval.

The proposed formation of the combined authority is at odds with Hampshire County Council’s plans.

The county council would rather see a ‘super’ unitary Hampshire council created which would swallow up the district councils in the county.

To take part in the consultation on the combined authority, visit solentdeal.co.uk.

The consultation will run until September 18.