“WE DON’T want a mayor”.

That’s the message from Hampshire’s council leaders as they home in on the devolution of major powers from the government to the county.

While ministers had been keen that Hampshire appoint a “metro mayor” to head up a new combined authority, county chiefs say they “do not see it as the right model for a large, diverse and extensively rural area such as Hampshire and the Isle of Wight”.

The devolution deal has been the subject of negotiations between the government and councillors for more than a year now.

The plans, first revealed in the Daily Echo, would see a new combined authority set up, which would be made of councillors and sit on top of existing councils.

It would have power over how millions of pounds currently portioned out by government are spent on things such as skills, roads and new homes.

And recently councillors have expressed a desire for the devolution proposals to go even further, with local decision makers grabbing control over health and education budgets as well.

The 15 councils, two local enterprise partnerships and two national park authorities who have combined for the bid have been involved in the final stages of negotiations with ministers.

The county council, one of the leading negotiators, says further details have now been provided on low-cost housing, infrastructure funding and how decisions are made at a local level.

However one measure they have refused to consider is the election of a metro mayor.

The mayoral role, a major component of government devolution proposals across the country, would have seen a London-style mayor installed at the top of the combined authority with ultimate power over decisions.

Elsewhere in the country the Greater Manchester combined authority, the first set up, will elect a metro mayor next year, as will the West Midlands.

However it appears that Hampshire will not be joining them as the bidding councils have told government they do not see it as the right option for the county.

Hampshire County Council leader Roy Perry said: “The government has said many times that there is no one-size fits all model.

“So what is this obsession with ‘metro mayors’? In Britain we do not elect our prime minister; he or she is drawn from Parliament and answerable to Parliament.

“That is the model that has been used for devolution in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and it seems to be totally appropriate in England.”

A final decision on devolution is expected later this year.