Thu, 22 Feb 2018
HAMPSHIRE County Council has written to all 11 district council leaders proposing one combined authority across the whole of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
County council leader Roy Perry said the letter proposed that the September 2015 bid for a combined authority is resubmitted.
He said: “I will be inviting the three unitary councils and the LEPs [local enterprise partnerships] and National Parks to re-join the bid as well.
“Contrary to some recent claims, at no point have I stated that I wish to re-open talks on a ‘mayoral combined authority’.
“We strongly believe there is scope for enhancing the original combined authority bid to cover more co-operation between all tiers of local government, on housing delivery and with the health authorities, particularly for social care – but this would be in the context of a combined authority, not a mayoral combined authority, or a unitary council.
“I have spoken with Sajid Javid, the secretary of state.
“He 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.
“Disrupting a county like Hampshire would be a very expensive and time-consuming exercise.
“It would also devastate some of the best local government services in the country.
“I am sure we can make significant economies with a combined authority – whilst still keeping local councils – by more shared service delivery between the county and districts.”
He added, as an example: “There is a need for speeding up housing delivery, and 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.”
Mr Perry’s letter to the district council leaders adds: “It is of course up to the unitary councils if they wish to join or not, but it seems clear to me that to be most efficient and effective we need an authority for local government that shares the same footprint as health, police and fire.
“We could spend a lot of time and effort debating differing boundaries for a combined authority, but it is clear that any disaggregation of an organisation not only reduces scale and capacity but would be immensely expensive, complex, time consuming and disruptive.
“This is why the county council has not supported bids for a Solent City that could lead to the sub-division of Hampshire.
“It is my cabinet’s view, which I anticipate will be endorsed by the full council, that we have an opportunity now to show that we in Hampshire and Isle of Wight can make a two-tier structure, with parish councils where wanted, appropriate for the 21st century.”
A combined authority is a legal body which enables a group of two or more councils to collaborate and take collective decisions across council boundaries.
Mr Perry said: “It is far more robust than an informal partnership or even a joint committee.”
Th proposal will be considered at the full council meeting today (Thursday).