Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Southampton and Portsmouth leaders back Solent authority plan

Southampton and Portsmouth
Image caption The rivalry between the two cities has been well-documented

The leaders of Portsmouth and Southampton councils have backed the idea of creating a combined authority to represent the Solent region.

The rivalry between the two south coast cities has been well-documented, but officials believe joining together would bring benefits to both.

The proposed authority would also encompass the Isle of Wight and southern Hampshire.

But political opponents said safeguards would have to be put in place.

A combined authority is created voluntarily and gives a group of local authorities extra powers from government to set transport, economic development and regeneration policy.

Council leaders Donna Jones (Portsmouth, Conservative) and Simon Letts (Southampton, Labour) said in a joint statement: "Southampton and Portsmouth city councils are very supportive of the opportunity that a combined authority offers the economic development and prosperity of the Solent area.

"We will engage in a dialogue with our neighbouring councils, the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership, the local MPs and central government to establish the scope of what can be achieved."

But the Liberal Democrat former leader of Portsmouth City Council, Gerald Vernon-Jackson, warned: "[A] combined authority... needs safeguards to make sure that Portsmouth residents' views are respected.

"Otherwise something like a congestion charge could be imposed on Portsmouth against the wishes of local people."

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