'Devolution and the Future of Local Government

Along with five other district councils in the ‘Heart of Hampshire’[1] group Winchester City Council has jointly commission a report from consultants PwC to provide an independent assessment about Devolution and the Future of Local Government in the Heart of Hampshire area.

The report has been prepared in parallel with the work undertaken by Hampshire County Council and districts in the Solent area of Hampshire which have each been looking at their own response to the Government’s devolution agenda.

Heart of Hampshire authorities want to work in partnership with the County Council to benefit businesses and residents by agreeing a devolution deal with the Government which will attract additional funding into the Heart of Hampshire area. There is real concern that investment opportunities may be missed if we cannot present an agreed position to Government in the near future.

The report makes the Heart of Hampshire case for improving the current system with improved working between the tiers of local government.

There is no momentum for the upheaval and cost that the creation of unitary councils would incur and certainly not for the single, remote unitary council which has been floated as an option by others. If the Heart of Hampshire had local government reorganisation imposed upon it, then two unitary authorities for the area – one covering the north and the other the middle of the county – would provide the best outcome balancing cost savings with democratic representation and accountability.

The report sets out the case for the establishment of two devolution deals, one covering the Solent councils and the other covering the Heart of Hampshire. The Heart of Hampshire councils fully support the continuing role of Hampshire County Council as a provider of vital public services across the County as part of this outcome.

The City Council sees the report as the basis for a conversation with the County Council, district colleagues and our Parish Councils as to how services and decision-making can be improved within the current framework but taking a new look at existing ways of working.