Solent Combined Authority deal '˜not dead' says minister
A MINISTER has poured cold water on the suggestion that a Â£900m devolution deal for the Solent region is dead.
Sajid Javid, the secretary for local government told The News that while a proposed deal for the Solent Combined Authority is not of the table, he said that ‘further discussions’ will be required to make the deal work.
The future of the ambitious deal – that would see local authorities in Portsmouth, Southampton and the Isle of Wight obtain devolved powers from government – looked bleak earlier this year after reports that the plans were ‘dead in the water’.
However, Mr Javid has confirmed that the deal is not dead and that – in the case of a Tory government – the plans would be looked over.
He said: ‘There are still conversations to be had on this deal.
‘The councils came forward with the bid and it was good to see it being brought forward and the MPs getting involved but nothing has been decided yet.
‘In the last year, the focus has been on completing the other devolution deals that we agreed previously. That was phase one and the Solent Combined Authority bid will be the second phase. Our focus during the negotiations will be to get a good deal for the region.’
The move could see £30m allocated to the region over the next 30 years by the government and an elected mayor would oversee the SCA which would work in the form of a ‘Solent cabinet’.
Councillor Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council, urged a future government to bring forward the deal.
She said: ‘The government is calling on this area to provide a lot such as transport infrastructure and housing. They need to put their money where their mouth is if we are going to be able to meet these targets.’
Councillor Roy Perry, Hampshire County Council’s leader, who opposes the SCA, said: ‘I very much want to work with the Solent cities and the Isle of Wight. I am confident the cities can and should work with their rural and semi-rural hinterland without all the expensive disruption that would come from splitting a county such as Hampshire.’
Councillor Simon Letts, leader of Southampton City Council said: ‘We are still very positive about getting this deal done and we are as enthusiastic about it as we have ever been.’
Following a change in leadership on the Isle of Wight Council, Cllr Letts said the leaders would look to get the island’s authority on board with the SCA.
He said: ‘We should have secured the deal sooner but now we will look to work with the Isle of Wight and get them on board with us.’