Hampshire and the Isle of Wight's hopes for a successful devolution bid have received a boost, after Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Greg Clark hosted a meeting yesterday [17 November] to learn more about the bid.
The Secretary of State invited some of the council and business leaders involved in the bid to Westminster so he could learn more about the area's plans and receive greater detail on specific elements of proposals.
Plans presented by Hampshire and the Isle of Wight in its prospectus , submitted to government earlier this autumn, focus on four key themes: boosting business and skills for work; accelerating housing delivery; investing in infrastructure; and transforming public services.
Within these themes, projects will deliver on the government's productivity plan to ensure:
Councillor Seán Woodward, Leader of Fareham Borough Council, who was one of the 5 council leaders attending the meeting, said: "The meeting with the Secretary of State, Greg Clark was positive and there is now a significant amount of work to be done between officers and civil servants to come up with an acceptable deal which can then be put to the people of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight in the new year."
The time invested by the Secretary of State in the meeting gives increased confidence to the Hampshire and Isle of Wight bid. Work to progress the devolution deal will now take place between his officials and local council and business leaders.
Information for journalists
For further general information on Hampshire and the Isle of Wight's devolution bid please contact:
Lee Todd - 023 9268 8073 or firstname.lastname@example.org
For information, quotes or queries relating to specific local authorities, please contact the relevant council's communications team.
The 15 local authorities, two local enterprise partnerships and two national park authorities which have jointly submitted the bid, are:
The bid has also received the support of Hampshire Constabulary, Hampshire Fire & Rescue and NHS England Wessex.
Should the proposals be successful, the ambitious nature of the devolution deal and number of partners involved mean it could become a blueprint for cities and regions across the country to follow.
Hampshire and the Isle of Wight's proposals are set out in a prospectus submitted to government in September and focus around four key themes: boosting business and skills for work; accelerating housing delivery; investing in infrastructure; and transforming public services.
Within these themes, projects will deliver on the government's productivity plan and rural productivity plan and ensure: more homes are built; more efficient local planning; further expansion of broadband; better mobile connectivity; improved transport connections; a more highly-skilled workforce with employers setting the skills agenda locally; higher employment and better wages.
Plans for homes include accelerated delivery of existing local plans, as well as an additional 500 homes a year in the priority home categories of rural affordable, low-cost starter, council new-build and extra care, by making use of exception sites including redundant public land.
Until central government confirms what it would award to Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, it is not possible to say what structure the devolved arrangement may take. However, rather than creating a new layer of government, the aim is to bring existing decision making powers from Whitehall down to a local level.
Furthermore, the partners would work to deepen devolution locally, and seek opportunities for district and parish councils to take on extra functions and develop services with communities.
The overall aim is to make Hampshire and the Isle of Wight an even better place to live and work, by growing the economy in urban and rural areas without compromising what makes these areas special. This would include maintaining valued open spaces through measures such as greenbelt, and working hard to encourage the involvement of local people in the design of their own communities.