Leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Roy Perry, has today issued a call for unity among local councils following the recent disputes about local government in the area.
Cllr Perry has responded to a recent letter from the political Leaders of the stalled “Solent bid” in which he strongly challenges the basis of their arguments in favour of that and separate “Heart of Hampshire” bids. Both have been resisted by the County Council because they make no economic sense in creating false divisions – geographically and between authorities. For instance, splitting up Hampshire’s highways functions will lead to inevitable but unnecessary expense. Even since the Solent letter was penned, one of its main authors, Cllr Jonathan Bacon of the Isle of Wight, has resigned.
Cllr Perry stated: “I am saying it is high time we came back together in a constructive way, put our recent differences behind us, and focussed on the needs of all our residents in difficult times.
“I have written to the Solent Leaders explaining why the technical analysis they had commissioned doesn’t work and doesn’t support their case. We have gone through it carefully and know that to be so. The Solent bid would not help the local economy, it would do it harm by isolating the area from the economic resources of the wider county as well as forcing the dismantling of vital county services – now and in the future.
“Nor is there any case for the creation of new unitary councils that cut across the County of Hampshire – again because they make no sense financially or for services. There is actually an overwhelming financial and service case for creating a County wide unitary, as is being planned in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire. All local and national evidence shows that this would do more than any other model to save money, protect vital services and cut council tax. But while the hard evidence for county unitaries is clear, Hampshire County Council prefers if possible to work with the districts in the interests of partnership. We want a concerted effort to work together in the county to make the two-tier system work, and to re-vamp our vital relations with the three unitaries. Cllr Bacon’s resignation should now give us all the opportunity for a complete re-think.
“So I am calling on my fellow leaders to call a halt, knowing that nothing will now be forthcoming from Central Government for the time being at least, and let us get back around the table in the interests of all of our communities.”