Portsmouth residents get say on combined authority plans

Portsmouth residents will have the chance to give their views on plans for a Solent Combined Authority at a series of events held across the city.

As part of a consultation on plans to secure new powers and funding from government, Portsmouth City Council has arranged three drop-in sessions where people can have their say on future funding allocation.

The Solent Combined Authority would take on responsibility for services currently managed by central government and receive £900 million of new funding over the next 30 years.

This will allow decisions to be made locally rather than in Westminster, with a focus on driving economic growth, improving infrastructure and transport links, and delivering more new homes in the region.

The combined authority would not replace any of the councils involved, nor take over their existing powers. Each council would be an equal member and would be represented on its board which could be led by a directly elected mayor.

The first event for residents is at the Cascades shopping centre in Commercial Road from 10:00am to 4:00pm on Saturday 13th August. This will be followed by Southsea Library in Palmerston Road from 10:00am to 4:00pm on Tuesday 30th August.

Finally, Cosham’s 1000 Lakeside will host sessions on Thursday 8th September from 12:00pm to 2:00pm, and 4:00pm to 7:00pm.

Councillor Donna Jones, Leader of Portsmouth City Council, said: “The Solent Combined Authority would secure £30m a year for us to spend on improving local roads, public areas, housing and job creation benefiting residents of Portsmouth, Southampton and the Isle of Wight. This is a really positive and exciting step forward for residents and businesses in South Hampshire and can give them better opportunities and outcomes for years to come. I’m keen we get the opinions of residents and businesses from across our area and hope as many people as possible come along to these sessions.”

Residents can also take part in the consultation by completing a survey at solentdeal.co.uk.

The consultation runs until 18th September and hard copies of the survey are available at Portsmouth City Council libraries and housing offices as well as the Civic Offices reception.

A combined authority would have responsibility for working with partners to increase business productivity, creating better jobs and more jobs, and aligning adult education and training to local business needs.

Bringing these responsibilities together in the Solent area will create more certainty for business investment, simplify and strengthen support for business growth and innovation, as well as focusing training in the skills local businesses need.

The deal would also enable all of the business rates generated in the area to be retained locally — meaning the area would have better control of its financial future.

It would control a dedicated transport budget, franchised bus services and the network of strategic local authority-maintained roads.

It is also anticipated that once the combined authority is in place it would be able to demonstrate its successes and negotiate with government to agree further powers and opportunities to be devolved, potentially in areas such as health and criminal justice, as the Greater Manchester Combined Authority has done.