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portsmouthsouthamptonisleofwightcouncillogosA lively debate and discussion followed a presentation from the Leader and Chief Executive of the Isle of Wight Council, at a public meeting on the Solent Deal on Wednesday (31st August).

The public meeting formed part of the consultation process that is currently underway which asks for views on plans to create a Solent Combined Authority; which will be able to take powers and budgets from government to deliver more locally focused service across the Isle of Wight, Portsmouth and Southampton The consultation closes on 18th September 2016.

Those attending the meeting raised some interesting points and views about the proposals for a Solent Mayoral Combined Authority that the three local councils are  currently consulting about.

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Over 40 local residents attended the meeting, which included a 90-minute  question and answer session.  The main topics for debate raised, included:

• how the Isle of Wight would ‘punch its weight’ to avoid the new organisation being dominated by the two cities and a city centric agenda?
• how the independence of a directly elected mayor could be assured?
• how plans to secure new jobs, economic growth, and financial security of the Island could be assured in the process?
• how the transport infrastructure in the area, including links to the mainland, could be improved to support the local economy.

Councillor Jonathan Bacon, Leader of the Isle of Wight Council, said:

“There seemed to be a general consensus in the room at the public meeting that we must improve inward investment locally and focus on driving forward our local economy through a variety of routes, for the good of the Isle of Wight. Ultimately people wanted to see: support for new businesses and business growth, including tourism; new and more specialist jobs in support of the Island’s more successful businesses and sectors; targeted training to feed those jobs; to create a more socially mobile and prosperous Island; building on our existing strengths.

“The powers and budgets associated with many of these activities currently sits within government which has to use a standard approach to their delivery across the country.  If these powers and budgets were developed to a Solent Combined Authority, then we could design bespoke schemes to meet actual local need and improve the opportunities for businesses and employees; this is a chance that devolution brings

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“Therefore, a devolution deal could create more certainty for businesses investment, simplify and strengthen support for business growth and innovation across the area, as well as focusing training in the skills local businesses need, leading to more jobs, and the whole of south Hampshire and the Isle of Wight would become better off. “

For more information or to take part in the consultation visit Hard copies of the consultation are available at council help centres and libraries.

Featured photo: Solent Deal

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