THE LEADER of Hampshire County Council has been elected as the chairman of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight branch of the Local Government Association (LGA).

County Council leader, Councillor Roy Perry was chosen to serve as the chairman of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight branch at the annual general meeting of the Local Government Association on June 13, in front of the leader or deputy leaders of Hampshire’s 11 districts, the two unitary cities of Southampton and Portsmouth, the Isle of Wight Council and police and crime commissioner, Simon Hayes.

The new leader of Portsmouth City Council, Cllr Donna Jones, was elected to serve as vice-chairman.

Outgoing LGA national chairman, Sir Merrick Cockell addressed the meeting, which was held at Havant Borough Council, and said that independent polls showed that over 76 per cent of the electorate trusted local councillors to deal with local matters compared with just six per cent who trusted Government ministers.

He said this highlighted a need, after the Scottish Independence referendum, for English local authorities to get more meaningful powers and autonomy.

Cllr Perry said: “This is a great honour as county council leader, to be trusted by the district 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 two cities have a population broadly the same as that of Wales and with a bigger Gross Domestic Product.

“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.”