Hampshire County Council leaves Solent Transport coalition

The future of Solent Transport, the coalition of local authorities originally comprising Hampshire County Council, Southampton and Portsmouth city councils and the Isle of Wight Council, has been thrown into doubt following the decision by Hampshire County Council to leave the organisation. Highways News highlighted that this was a possibility on 27 June.

The partnership provides leadership, strategy and direction to deliver transport improvements across south Hampshire and the Isle of Wight and improve the movement of people and goods across the area. Its flagship programme is implementation of the £28.8m DfT funded Future Transport Zone (FTZ), says Interchange.

The Solent FTZ provides real-world testing for experts, allowing them to work with a range of local organisations such as councils, hospitals, airports and universities to test and trial innovative ways to transport people and goods. The FTZ works alongside other local authority led schemes.

The crux of the issue is that Solent Transport receives funding to cover its administrative costs based on the population, with Hampshire contributing 45%, Portsmouth and Southampton 20% each and the Isle of Wight the remaining 15%.

Cllr Adrian Collett, member of the Hampshire 2050 and Corporate Services Committee, said that with Hampshire County Council contributing nearly half the organisation’s administrative costs (totalling around £200k) they had to look at whether the money was well spent. Officers at the Council also pointed out that Hampshire hasn’t secured any funding directly through the partnership in the last five years.

The leader of the county council Cllr Nick Adams-King said, “We have, as a group of authorities, been incredibly successful in attracting over £150 million worth of investments into Transport across Solent. There has been really fantastic work, but all of that happened as a consequence of bilateral partnership working, rather than through Solent Transport itself.

“Seeing how well we are working together, I think we don’t need a separate organisation in order to continue that work. There is an established and successful way of working, but it means that, actually, I think we can be better focused on what we need to deliver without the additional governance of a separate organisation.”

The three remaining authorities urged the council not to leave the deal. They expressed their “disappointment” with the county council’s intention and said that despite understanding “financial challenges,” the partnership plays “a pivotal role in improving transport across the Solent.”

A statement said Solent Transport would continue with the Isle of Wight Council, Portsmouth City Council, and Southampton City Council despite Hampshire’s decision. “It would be disappointing if people living in the Hampshire County Council area no longer benefit from this work.”

Hampshire’s departure will take effect “on, or as close as possible” to 1 April 2025.


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