Hampshire County Council launches devolution consultation
Hampshire County Council has launched a rival consultation about the future of local government in the county.
It follows a proposal by Southampton, Portsmouth and Isle of Wight councils to create a combined authority for the Solent area.
A public consultation on the Solent plan began on Friday.
County council leader Roy Perry said the eight-week county-wide consultation was "leaving all options open to Hampshire residents".
Options include the merger of the county and district councils into a single unitary authority.
Mr Perry said the single authority would "hold a real prospect of delivering a council tax cut for many households, prevent services from being cut and provide savings of £400m over 10 years".
The consultation will also ask residents whether they want an elected mayor, whether the county should split or whether there should be no change.
Mr Perry said: "I strongly encourage residents, stakeholders and all tiers of local government to make their views known. This will help us to put the right proposal forward to central government."
Councillors at Southampton, Portsmouth and Isle of Wight have already approved draft plans to create a combined Solent authority that would see them leave the current system of government funding in exchange for keeping business rates of about £210m a year and securing £900m from government to spend on infrastructure over 30 years.
Under the plan, each of the councils would continue as separate entities and retain their existing powers but they would also be equal members on a board led by an elected mayor.
The Solent consultation will run until 18 September.
The Hampshire consultation will end on 20 September.