HAMPSHIRE County Council leader Roy Perry has been elected as chairman of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight branch of the local government association.

The meeting held at the Havant Borough Council offices was attended by council leaders and deputy leaders from the two 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.

Roy Perry thanked Cllr Seán Woodward who had been chairman for the past two years.

Cllr 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 two 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.”