Solent to forge new, locally-owned, nationally-leading partnership
The Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has announced plans to establish Solent Partners: A new partnership between local industry, academic and civic leaders working together to promote the collective prosperity and sustainability of the Solent economy.
Since its inception, the Solent LEP has continually evolved, and the ambitions of local partners have broadened following recent successes including the establishment of the Solent Freeport, announced by the Chancellor at the 2021 Budget, and creation of Maritime UK Solent as one of sixteen private sector initiatives identified by HM Government in the Levelling Up Whitepaper during 2022. The Solent is now targeting national recognition through Solent Partners, with a vision to become a nationally-leading, industry-led partnership that will build and grow a world-leading, innovative, low-carbon economy.
Nick Loader, Deputy Chair of the Solent LEP, said:
“The Solent Local Enterprise Partnership has achieved a huge amount since its formation in 2011, with investment in projects across the region that will leave a legacy for years to come. There are many success stories to highlight – the development of the Solent Enterprise Zone, establishment of groundbreaking industry-led skills centres, and enhancements to connectivity that are right now unlocking new jobs and homes across the area to name but a few. However, the partnership forged between our public and private sector leaders to develop a shared, ambitious, and long-term vision for the Solent economy is as critical to our area’s future prosperity as any of these achievements. We want to ensure that the Solent can build on the success of the LEP Board to date and that the strengths of our local partnership can be retained moving forward for the benefit of all. Solent Partners reflects our broader, more ambitious vision for the Solent, and will enable us to continue to work collectively to achieve the vision set out in our Solent 2050 strategy.”
Anne-Marie Mountifield, Chief Executive of the Solent LEP, said:
“Through Solent Partners, we will continue to deliver critical activity for our local businesses and communities on behalf of Government including the well-established Solent Growth Hub and Solent Careers Hub – which has recently been successful in securing an additional £1.2m through the Department for Education to enable us to support skills bootcamps in the Solent. Solent Partners will also continue to deliver on our commitments to the local area, with the continuation of support for initiatives such as Maritime UK Solent which is providing a voice for our world leading maritime industry on a national and international stage. Alongside ensuring that the work started through the Solent LEP goes from strength to strength, perhaps most importantly, Solent Partners also gives our area the opportunity to ensure the Solent can continue to benefit from new and exciting opportunities – including those as part of the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero’s Powering Up Britain policy, of which The Solent Cluster is at the forefront. We will shortly be announcing more details on how our local businesses can get involved in the work of Solent Partners and are very much looking forward to working with all those who share our commitment to promoting the collective prosperity and sustainability of the Solent economy in the years ahead.”
There is a strong consensus that the time is right to integrate the functions and role of the LEP into local democratic institutions to support the Solent area. Local leaders recognise the private sector continues to be critical to levelling up, and are committed to maintaining the integrity of this independent business voice to support economic growth and future opportunities for devolution in the Solent.
Cllr Steve Pitt, Leader of Portsmouth City Council, said:
“Solent Partners will establish a blueprint which will ensure that both the core and wider functions currently delivered by the Solent LEP continue. It is vital that there is an organisation that brings together the business, academic and democratic voice for the Solent. This industry-led partnership brings Solent leaders together to promote the collective prosperity and sustainability of the Solent economy and we have agreed our first three-year corporate plan. The continued recognition for an organisation representing the Solent, will be important for the confidence of businesses and organisations across the area and crucially it ensures the private sector independent business voice remains.”
Cllr Satvir Kaur, Leader of Southampton City Council, said:
“For centuries the Solent has flourished as the UK’s coastal powerhouse, strategically located as a trading gateway of international significance. Today, as we look ahead to levelling-up and greening our economy in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the economic headwinds and cost of living challenges and establishing new trading relationships with the rest of the world, these unique economic credentials and strengths remain more important than ever before.
Our region is exceptionally placed to be at the vanguard of environmental innovation as part of the pathway to Net Zero, leading the way in strengthening UK competitiveness on a global stage, in turn levelling up prosperity and opportunity so that all parts of our population and business base can contribute towards economic success.”
Cllr Lora Peacey-Wilcox, Leader of Isle of Wight Council, said:
“We must build on the foundations of the Solent LEP with Solent Partners, which will provide a strong, independent, and diverse local business voice in local decision-making processes through economic and sector leadership for the Solent. Alongside this, Solent Partners will connect the area’s key organisations, champion and showcase the Solent’s excellence locally, nationally and internationally as well as delivering programmes to grow the Solent economy, support businesses, spark innovation, develop talent, promote net-zero, encourage inward investment, and grow the Solent’s sector strengths.”
Further information in relation to Solent Partners and opportunities to get involved will be published shortly.