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Hampshire leader: mayoral combined authority would ‘devastate’ services and divide county

Hampshire County Council remains “strongly opposed” to any arrangement that would split the county, the council leader has stated.

In a letter to the county’s 11 district council leaders, Cllr Roy Perry has reiterated his stance on proposals to form a combined authority. He has proposed that the September 2015 bid for a combined authority for all of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight is resubmitted.

Additionally, he revealed that he will invite the three unitary councils, LEPs and national parks to rejoin the bid.

In the letter, Perry stressed: “At no point have I stated that I wish to re-open talks on a ‘mayoral combined authority’ for the Solent area.”

The council leader believes that there is scope for enhancing the original combined authority bid so that there is more co-operation between all tiers of local government, but has stressed that this would be in the context of a combined authority for all of Hampshire rather than a mayoral combined authority or a unitary council.

“We certainly remain strongly opposed to any Solent arrangement which would split the county of Hampshire,” he said. “My view is that it is Hampshire’s scale and capacity that has enabled it to avoid the really severe financial problems being faced in other parts of the country, such as in Northamptonshire.”

Housing, communities and local government secretary Sajid Javid has reportedly been clear that he would not impose anything that does not have the county council’s agreement.

“He also knows our concern that if a unitary Solent City were to be established, that could, and almost certainly would, lead to the division of Hampshire,” Perry added.

Warning that disrupting Hampshire would be very expensive and time-consuming, the leader said that it would “devastate some of the best local government services in the country.”

Instead, he explained that significant economies can be established with a combined authority, whilst keeping local councils, by a more shared service delivery between the county and districts.

Speaking of the county’s need to speed up housing delivery, Perry wrote: “It is the county council, with its responsibility for highways and education, that has the scale and capacity and capital funds and flexibility to speed up that delivery.

“I am well aware that there have been differing agendas on these issues, and I will of course fully respect any unitary authority which chooses not to engage in this proposal.

“However, I feel that a Hampshire-wide approach offers the best and only realistic opportunity of a platform for real devolution to aid economic development, including in the cities and on the island - while benefiting all residents.”

The Notice of Motion will be considered at the meeting of the full county council today.

Top image: werbeantrieb

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