At their AGM held at the Havant Borough Council offices on Friday 13 June Councillor Roy Perry, Leader of HCC, was elected as Chairman of the Hampshire and IoW Branch of the Local Government Association.
The meeting was attended by Council Leaders or Deputy Leaders from the 2 Unitary cities of Southampton and Portsmouth, the Isle of Wight as well as each of Hampshire’s 11 Districts. The Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Hayes was also present, as were representatives of the local and town councils.
Cllr Donna Jones the new Leader of Portsmouth City Council was elected as Vice Chairman.
Roy Perry thanked Cllr Seán Woodward, Leader of Fareham Borough Council, who has been Chairman for the past two years.
Councillor Perry promised to serve all tiers of local government as well as the whole geographic area and to do so in a cross- party manner as the LGA operates by consensus.
He told the assembled members that his local government experience goes right back to 1970 when he was first elected to Eastleigh Borough Council and he had served for nine years as Leader of a District Council for the Test Valley and as an MEP his constituency had been Wight and Hampshire South, so he had known the Isle of Wight and Portsmouth well from the 10 years he served in the European Parliament.
The AGM was addressed by the outgoing national chairman of the LGA, Sir Merrick Cockell. Sir Merrick pointed out that independent polls showed over 76% of the electorate trusted local councillors to deal with local matters compared with just 6% who trusted ministers.
He said this highlighted a need, after the Scottish Independence referendum, however it went, for English local authorities to get more meaningful powers and autonomy.
Commenting after the meeting Roy Perry said: “This is a great honour as County Council Leader, to be trusted by the Districts and Unitary authorities to be the leading democratically elected local government spokesman for the whole area. I totally endorse Sir Merrick’s comments on the need for more local autonomy and it is worth reflecting that Hampshire with the Isle of Wight and the 2 cities have a population broadly the same as that of Wales and with a bigger GDP. It is high time local people in this area had more autonomy over local issues and it is not just the Welsh, Scots and Northern Irish who can be trusted with devolved powers. We in Wessex have just as much right to have devolved powers and would use it to good effect to keep the area prosperous and protect its environment.“