50 signatures reached
To: Portsmouth, Southampton & Isle of Wight Councils
Solent Devolution - let the people, not politicians, decide
Give residents of Portsmouth, Southampton and the Isle of Wight the final say via referendum on whether or not we want a Solent Combined Authority.
Why is this important?
The local authorities of Portsmouth, Southampton and the Isle of Wight are proposing sweeping changes to the way local government works. This will result in the creation of a new Solent Combined Authority, possibly headed by an Elected Mayor.
An online consultation began on 22nd July 2016 with little account taken of the need for accessibility for those with disabilities. This consultation started during the busy summer holiday period when many people are away or otherwise occupied.
The consultation unfairly prevents many people from fully participating in this key issue including those without access to the internet who have not been told where to obtain hard copies. It imposes barriers on those disabled.
This should be a matter of considerable concern for residents of Portsmouth, Southampton and the Isle of Wight. It also disenfranchises many students who study in the two cities and on the island but may be away during the summer.
I believe such major changes should not merely be consulted upon. A hard copy of the consultation could have been posted to each household alongside the council's own communications direct to residents. The proposals must be subject to proper scrutiny before being put to the people of all three authorities. A referendum should then decide whether or not they want a Solent Combined Authoritity.
Active engagement with the people should include a full consultation and debate of all the issues set out in the paper. There should be public meetings across the region at which elected representatives and local government officers from all the authorities are present to explain their position and answer questions.
In the interests of fairness and balance, these panels should also represent those who have serious doubts about the proposals put to the people. The current consultation process runs until 18th September 2016 after which the Secretary of State may simply pass legislation to give effect to appoint an acting mayor ahead of elections next year.
I do not take a position on whether a Solent Combined Authority is desirable or not. However, I do believe democracy demands that politicians should not make the final decisions on these matters but those who work, study and live in our area. Due to individual electoral registration, the councils are fully aware of who the eligible voters are.
This is why I am calling for plans for a new authority to be put to a referendum. A similar petition has been launched for presentation to Parliament which I would also encourage you to sign here:
In summary, I am calling for politicians to accept that a new combined authority should only go ahead with a majority in favour in each of the three council areas.