Isle of Wight Council issues U-turn on Solent devolution plan

Isle of Wight Council has decided to go ahead with a plan for a joint Solent authority which could secure £900 million in government grants, after previously voting against the move.

The decision means the council will proceed with the devolution partnership with Portsmouth and Southampton, however, it has maintained it may still withdraw from the deal if the terms of the arrangement are unfavourable.

Jonathan Bacon, leader of the council, said a devolution deal was the only way to address the island authority's ‘perilous financial state’, following budget cuts of more than £50 million over the last five years.

Bacon said his independent-controlled executive reversed Wednesday's vote by the full council, which has no party majority, in order to keep all options open.

Councillors will still need to vote again after negotiations with the government.

The deal directs that the three councils would leave the current system of government funding in exchange for keeping business rates of about £210 million a year. While they will continue to operate as separate entities, they will be equal members on a board led by an elected mayor.