The Solent Deal, a devolution bid by Southampton, Portsmouth and Isle of Wight Councils alongside the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership, proposes to create a mayoral authority for the area with control over transport, housing and planning, business and skills.
ICE South East England has backed proposals to set up a Mayoral Combined Authority and has set out a number of measures the new authority should take to ensure the best infrastructure delivery. It follows the publication in June of the ICE’s State of the Nation: Devolution Report, a ten point plan for combined authorities looking to receive greater powers over infrastructure.
Recommendations for the proposed authority include taking a joined-up approach to rail, bus and road services and learning from other transport authorities like Transport for London and Transport for Greater Manchester to ensure best practice.
ICE South East England have also called for the Deal to include funding for the research, development and delivery of digital infrastructure with the new authority working with central Government departments to access any data that is currently or could be used to improve the delivery of infrastructure services.
Additionally, devolution provides the opportunity to take a systems-based approach to infrastructure, looking at the region’s requirements strategically and holistically. For example, the Solent Combined Authority should consider the effect of coastal flooding on the transport network or the effect of new rail links on the energy system.
Speaking on the Solent Deal, ICE South East England Director Suzanne Moroney said:
“Devolution provides a great opportunity for combined authorities to change how we deliver projects. With more localised decision making, we can be more joined up in our thinking – examining how changes to the road system might affect nearby flood defence schemes, for example.
“The Solent region would benefit from the devolution of greater powers, but it is crucial that the new combined authority continues to invest in infrastructure, particularly digital, so that the region can continue to attract investment and skilled workers.
“We look forward to working with all three councils and the LEP as this devolution deal progresses”.