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Hampshire Local Government Consultation

Hampshire County CouncilThe County Council has just launched its 8-week public Serving Hampshire Local Government Consultation on the future of local government in Hampshire.

They want to hear the views of the public about various ways that the County Council and the 11 district councils in Hampshire could change, or be reorganised.

Why is this important?

There could be big changes to the way we get our council services. Council services include health, education, planning, social care, bin collections, roads and transport.

This could affect how much council tax we pay, and how much influence we have over how public money is spent. It could also give more responsibility to parish councils.

This consultation arose from government plans to devolve political powers from Westminster. Devolution allows local councils/regions to have more control over decisions specific to their areas.

How do I take part?

  1. Visit www3.hants.gov.uk/servinghampshire for an introduction to the survey and why it is so important.
  2. Read the Serving Hampshire Consultation Information Pack
  3. Use the online Response Form to give your views and comments
  4. If you’d prefer, you can fill in the survey on paper.  Ring 0808-2024-970 or email .

What’s the timetable?

The consultation closes at 23.59 on 20 September 2016.

The findings will be available in autumn 2016.

They will help the County Council decide what to recommend to central Government.

What might happen?

With the aid of consultants Deloitte, Hampshire County Council looked at several options for the future of local government in Hampshire.

The Briefing Pack  describes, and invites comments, on the four options which they thought most promising.

They are:

Hampshire Local Government Consultation - Option 1
Option 1a: Create a single combined authority called the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Combined Authority. Option 1b: Create two separate combined authorities called “Heart of “Hampshire” and Solent”
Hampshire Local Government Consultation - Option 2
Option 2a: Create a single unitary council for the existing Hampshire County Council area. Option 2b: Create three new unitary councils. One for the existing Hampshire County Council area. One each for Portsmouth and Southampton with their surrounding areas.

What are “Unitary” and “Combined” authorities?

What is a Unitary Authority?What is a Combined Authority?

Unitary Authority

Under the Local Government Act of 1972, most of England had a three-tier system of local government: County Councils, District (or City) Councils, and Parish (or Town) Councils. This is sometimes known as a two-tier system, ignoring parish councils.

The Local Government Act of 1992 enabled the creation of unitary authorities.

In general:

  • County councils are responsible for: education, highways, transport planning, passenger transport, social care, libraries, waste disposal and strategic planning.
  • District Councils are responsible for: housing, leisure and recreation, environmental health, waste collection, planning applications and local taxation collections.
  • Unitary authorities combine the functions of  county and district councils

Following the Local Government Act 1992, the Local Government Commission for England conducted structural reviews of the two-tier shire counties of England.

The Commission recommended the creation of the first tranche of unitary authorities, of which there are now over 50.

The Southampton and Portsmouth unitary authorities are former city councils which took over powers from the Hampshire County Council.

It can work the other way. The new unitary Wiltshire Council is the successor authority to Wiltshire County Council (1889–2009) and also to four district councils (now dissolved) —Kennet, North Wiltshire, Salisbury, and West Wiltshire.

The 1990s Local Government Review examined whether Winchester District Council should become part of a “Hampshire Downland” unitary authority comprising the existing districts of Winchester, Test Valley and East Hampshire.

The 1990s review recommended separating Southampton and Portsmouth from Hampshire to become unitary authorities, with no change to the county/district hierarchy for the rest of Hampshire.

This latest consultation re-visits unitary authority options for Hampshire.

Combined Authority

Combined authorities are a legal structure that may be set up by two or more local authorities in England. They can be set up with or without a directly-elected mayor.  They may take on statutory functions transferred to them by an Order made by the Secretary of State, plus any functions that the constituent authorities agree to share. For example, they are able to assume the role of an integrated transport authority and economic prosperity board.

According to Wikipedia (though presumably Brexit will affect this),

Combined authorities are encouraged to borrow from European institutions for social and environmental schemes which meet EU objectives. Loans are made with conditions attached which further EU policies. By 2015 Greater Manchester CA had agreed loans from the European Investment Bank which topped £1 billion with similar liabilities to the Treasury and private business.

In autumn 2015, the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Devolution prospectus, dated September 2015, was presented to the government for discussion.

Leaders of Hampshire County Council, and of the 11 District Councils in Hampshire, and the leaders of the Portsmouth, Southampton and Isle of Wight unitary authorities all signed the prospectus.

The Devolution prospectus had said, in its latest draft, that a combined authority, possibly with an elected mayor, would be one of the governance options. This is similar to Option 1a of the current consultation.

The leader of the County Council had said that he preferred not to introduce a new elected mayoral post.  Central Government (at least under the Cameron administration) had shown a very strong preference is for a combined authority to be led by a directly elected mayor.

This conflict seems to have been the main reason that the HIOW devolution proposal stalled.

Then the government started looking at an alternative proposal for a devolved Solent area. This would include Portsmouth and Southampton, Gosport, Fareham, Isle of Wight, Eastleigh, Havant and East Hampshire.


  1. Politics.co.uk: Local Government Structure
  2. Local Government Commission for England (1992) (Wikipedia)
  3. City of Winchester Trust Chairman’s Remarks – Trust Annual Report 1993
  4. Wikipedia: Combined Authority
  5. Local Government Association: Combined Authorities
  6. Commons Briefing Note:  Combined Authorities (Contains Parliamentary information licensed under the Open Parliament Licence v3.0.)
  7. House of Commons Library Combined Authorities Briefing Paper  (pdf) 12 February 2016
  8. Your Hampshire: Serving Hampshire Consultation opens on 27 July
  9. County Council Leader sets out new vision for local government in Hampshire. Friday 13 May 2016
  10. Devolution Prospectus for Hampshire and Isle of Wight September 2105 (pdf)
  11. Heart of Hampshire devolution proposal – Winchester City Council
  12. Some comments from news media