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25.10.16

Isle of Wight executive votes to ‘stay at the table’ with Solent CA

The Isle of Wight Council executive has agreed to back plans for a Solent Combined Authority at a meeting last night.

The decision means that the council will formally submit a request to the communities and local government secretary, Sajid Javid, to establish the combined authority, alongside Portsmouth and Southampton councils, which have already voted in favour of the decision.

However, the decision goes against the Isle of Wight’s own council members, who voted against the proposals after Cllr Roy Perry, leader of Hampshire County Council, wrote to them arguing in favour of a Hampshire Isle of Wight authority.

Cllr Jonathan Bacon, leader of Isle of Wight Council, said: “This decision will mean the Isle of Wight Council can stay at the table as these discussions progress, with the involvement of the secretary of state.

“The council will still retain the option of not joining the combined authority if suitable terms cannot be agreed or the expected devolution deal, including an expected commitment for £900m investment funds over 30 years, is not secured with the government – both will need the further and final agreement of the council.

“By taking this decision to stay at the table, we are ensuring that every opportunity is examined and kept open as we endeavour to secure a long-term sustainable financial future for the council and the Island as a whole.”

He added that the council had also agreed a medium-term financial strategy with a focus on regeneration, which would “be more easily delivered” with investment as part of the devolution deal.

The government has been accused of going “walkabout” on devolution as a number of deals have faced setbacks recently.

Sajid  withdrew the North East devolution deal when it was rejected by four North East Combined Authority councils, and Lincolnshire county council has voted against proposals for a Greater Lincolnshire Combined Authority.

(Image c. Alan Vincent)

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