SOLENT devolution could still be on the cards according to one government minister.
During a visit to Shirley yesterday, Savjid Javid, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government told the Echo that devolution was not dead in the water.
He insisted that the conservative manifesto which is expected to be released tomorrow will highlight devolution as one of their key growth areas.
“Our focus has been to look at the deals previously done and with the recent metro mayor elections we have delivered on these promises.
“It will now be up to the new government to decide how we take Solent devolution forward.”
A plan for a Solent authority, made up of Southampton, Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight had been submitted to the government but it was thought that the proposals had been scuppered when the Island council withdrew its support.
The government had previously pledged a new devolved authority £1bn in funding but spread over 30 years.
Two of the city’s labour candidates claimed a decision could have been made earlier by Mr Javid.
Alan Whitehead, Labour candidate for Southampton Test said: “Mr Javid has extremely effrontery to talk about Solent devolution for the future when he has been sitting on a deal that has been agreed with all parties and by doing this has put the economy back by seven years.”
Southampton City Council leader Simon Letts, who is standing for Labour in Southampton Itchen, said: “We know that Mr Javid has been sat on an agreed deal since early November but he has been running scared of backbench MPs who have been putting the pressure on.”
The secretary of state was visiting Selby Place, a new affordable housing site developed by Radian Homes in 2014.
Mr Javid was accompanied by Tory candidate for Southampton Itchen Paul Holmes and Lindsay Todd, Radian’s chief executive.
he was promoting the Conservative’s election pledge to build more affordable housing.
“Over the last seven years nationally we have seen a pick-up in house building by more than 60 per cent annually,” said Mr Javid.
“Where Southampton has failed is by its Local council, they have had a commitment to build one affordable housing unit a day in the city and in the last four years they have only delivered 87.
“I took a look at that 87 and most them were because of central government programmes so the council have failed.”
Asked about the Southampton City Council’s plan to open its own “flat-pack” housing factory, Mr Javid agreed more modular type homes would be very welcome and that “Southampton has a huge contribution to make to that in terms of light industry and manufacturing.”
Mr Whitehead disagreed with Mr Javid’s figures.
“With regards to affordable housing, he is way off the affordable housing mark and appears to have been misinformed,” said the Labour candidate.
“Southampton has already built more than 1,000 affordable homes over the last four years with 350 still in the pipeline.”
Simon Letts added: “We have built more than 1,150 affordable homes while 100 have been solely funded and built by Southampton City Council which are exceeding our targets.”
Source : DailyEcho