Working together for the benefit of Hampshire residents must remain our shared priority

The Leader of Hampshire County Council has underlined the importance of all local authorities across Hampshire and the wider area continuing to work constructively and meaningfully together for the good of local residents – after hopes for a devolution deal for the area were dealt a major blow

Jul 18 2023

Councillor Rob Humby has expressed his disappointment that the once-in-a-generation plans to potentially secure new powers and investment of £1.14 billion to the region from a Pan-Hampshire County Deal are now in question after unitary councils withdrew from planned discussions with Government – having rejected the prospect of a single deal for the wider Hampshire area. 

Councillor Humby said: “From the outset of the national Devolution Programme, we have always wanted to secure the best possible deal for residents and communities across the Pan-Hampshire area - that gives local people their say, the tools, the powers and resources to decide what’s right for the area, to help us all benefit current and future generations. 

“With the cost-of-living crisis and economic impacts of recession, a Pan-Hampshire County Deal would make a significant contribution to Hampshire’s economic recovery, as well as the longer-term ambition for our area. It would stimulate economic recovery, regeneration, and business growth now and for the future – with the goal of making our area better and stronger, and all the benefits this would bring to the people who live and work here, and visit the region. 

“Our Pan-Hampshire County Deal proposals were jointly developed with the 11 district councils within the County Council administrative area as well as the unitary council cities of Portsmouth and Southampton, and the Isle of Wight, and since we submitted the plans to Government at the end of last year, Ministers and officials have been keen to discuss taking them forward. However, the Leaders of the three Unitary Councils of Southampton, Portsmouth and Isle of Wight have also written to Government requesting a separate ‘Two Deal Solution’, one for the Unitary Councils and one for the County Area and have rejected the invitation for talks with the Minister on our original joint concept of a single Deal – something Government has consistently supported as the best possible option for our region.  
 
“This now means it’s highly unlikely a devolution Deal can be realistically taken forward for our area, which is a huge blow in terms of the lost opportunity for our residents and the extra powers, funding, and investment that could have come to our communities, both now and into the years ahead. 
 
“With a County Deal very sadly no longer an option, it’s vital that we all continue to keep working together meaningfully and with purpose to benefit our residents. Across Hampshire and beyond, there is much to be celebrated about our rich and diverse communities. And with so much in common, we cannot lose sight of what we all share and our mutual ambitions to keep securing the very best outcomes for our residents now and into the future – something we had hoped to strengthen further through a County Deal arrangement.”