HAMPSHIRE’s civic leader says he is “not surprised” that plans to create a combined Solent authority were scrapped by government.

Announced last week, the proposed authority, combining Southampton, Portsmouth, and Isle of Wight councils, would’ve taken on more delegated powers, been responsible for services currently managed by central government, and received £900 million of new funding over 30 years.

But now Hampshire County Council leader Roy Perry has had his say on the decision, which he claims would’ve led to a “carve-up of the county” if approved.

“I am not surprised to learn that the government has finally confirmed that the Solent Combined Authority proposal is not being supported,” he said.

“I naturally share the desire of my fellow leaders and their authorities to secure better investment in our area, but I was always dubious about promises stretching over 30 years.

“The suggested Solent area was far smaller than other devolution deals – and much of the infrastructure investment needed to help the economy of the Solent part of Hampshire is needed outside the immediate Solent area.

“For instance, the main problem on the M3 and motorway access to Southampton from the Midlands is at J9 of the M3 at Winchester. Rail improvement for Southampton and Portsmouth requires track improvements up country at Woking and Wimbledon for example.”

Those in support of the plans claimed they would have allowed decisions to be made locally rather than in Westminster, with a focus on driving economic growth, improving infrastructure and transport links.

As reported, the news that the deal was dead was revealed by South Portsmouth MP Stephen Morgan who received a letter from Devolution Minister Jake Berry which noted “the 2016 devolution deal is not on the table.”

This sparked frustrated responses from local council leaders who weren’t told.

The authority would also have been led by a mayor, similar to Manchester and London.

Cllr Perry added: “Unfortunately the economy in the part of the county in the Solent LEP area is not performing as well as in the rest of the county.

“That is one of the reasons that the county council is strongly recommending that the government should merge the Solent and the EM3 Local Enterprise Partnerships in the current review [taking place]. We are definitely stronger together.

“My own determination is that now this difficult episode is over, which to my mind was never about real devolution or meaningful investment by government, the existing authorities, cities and island, county and districts, can work together to make the case for our area which is so essential both to our communities and to the nation.”