Between now and 18th September, we residents of Chilworth have an opportunity to submit our opinions to a public consultation on a devolution deal for the Solent area, which is being negotiated with the government. The councils of Southampton, Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight are proposing a new Solent Mayoral Combined Authority with devolved powers to manage an additional £900M over the next thirty years. The new authority would combine and take over some of the roles of the existing three unitary authorities, which would still continue to exist. Whether we like it or not, this will affect us.
This is not to be confused with the separate consultation, launched in parallel by Hampshire County Council. Having initially been involved in discussions, HCC has declined to take part in the proposed Solent Deal, which means that Test Valley is also out of the equation to some extent. However, the Solent LEP would also be a constituent part of the new Solent Mayoral Combined Authority, and many businesses here in Chilworth are involved in that.
Either way, the Solent consultation is canvassing the opinions of all stakeholders and it is hard to argue that residents of Chilworth are not stakeholders in whatever is to be done with £900M to shape the economic future of South Hampshire. “Shaping the economic future” necessarily involves trying to address some of the problems that hold this area back, most notably its transport shortcomings, the mismatch of education with industry needs and the pressure on housing and related utilities. If you have an opinion on whether or not this area needs an elected Mayor, at the helm of an overarching regional authority, now is a good time to express it.
Hampshire County Council has launched its own consultation on the future of local government in Hampshire. Even among the eleven district councils there is evident disharmony (unsurprisingly given that some wished Hampshire to support a similar mayoral authority in the north of the county). Action Hampshire has more about this here, including a link to the separate Hampshire consultation. Given the tone of its content, it would not be surprising if it were to be censored at some point. Please let the Editor know if you spot that the link no longer works.