Businesses decide how to spend European money

IDEAS Doug Morrison, the chairman of Solent LEP
IDEAS Doug Morrison, the chairman of Solent LEP
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MORE than 120 business people from the Solent region have come together to decide how a £37m (€43m) pot of European money should be spent in the next seven years.

An event hosted at the Ageas Bowl in Hedge End by the Solent Local Enterprises Partnership yesterday was part of a broad consultation to help develop a strategy to make the most of the available funds.

The money from the EU Structural and Investment Fund is designed to drive growth in the region between 2014 and 2020.

Chris Evans, from the University of Exeter, launched the consultation after presentations from Portsmouth-based Solent LEP chief executive Anne-Marie Mountifield, as well as Kevin Forshaw, industry liaison officer from the Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute and David Morrall, from the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Doug Morrison, Solent LEP Chairman, said: ‘We had a fantastic turnout of local people keen to help influence how this money is spent for best effect in our region.

‘The feedback we received is exactly what we need to deliver a targeted programme of investment that tackles the Solent’s issues and promotes growth.’

Delegates discussed where they thought the money would be best spent across a range of sectors including skills, SMEs, innovation, low carbon, employment, ICT and social inclusion.

The debate produced a wide range of views and opinions, which will now be collated by the LEP and used to inform production of the strategy.

The consultation is far from over.

For those who could not attend the event, the Solent LEP has arranged an online survey to enable the entire community to register their views.

Complete the survey and have your say on the EU Investment strategy at survey.exeter.ac.uk/fundingsolent

In addition, a second consultation event is being planned for Solent stakeholders to help shape the emerging strategy.

The details of a second event will be announced on the solentlep.org.uk website.