Politicians and business leaders hail booming economic growth as 'validating' their vision

POLITICIANS and business leaders have said their ‘vision’ for Portsmouth has been validated after a report forecast the city to have the second fastest economic growth rate among competitor cities.

Wednesday, 22nd January 2020, 6:00 am

The report, published by law firm Irwin Mitchell and the Centre for Economics and Business Research, said the city will beat other cities including Exeter and Oxford. It is due to have a Reading is set to have the fastest growth in the measure of gross value added by the end of the year.

Southampton comes eighth in the report.

Portsmouth City Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for city development, Councillor Steve Pitt, said: ‘I am delighted that the UK Powerhouse study has forecast that Portsmouth will be the second-fastest growing city in the country by the end of 2020.

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An aerial photo of Portsmouth. Picture: Shaun Roster

‘Our aim is to make Portsmouth Britain’s premier waterfront technology and innovation city – a great place to invest, learn, live, work and visit, and the most attractive place for starting, growing or locating a business.’

Portsmouth International Port was named in the report as being one of the main contributing factors towards the growth of the city’s economy, alongside the naval base and BAE Systems, as well as the £700m of non-EU trade handled each year.

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Port director Mike Sellers said he has plans underway to transform the port, as well as a focus to become the UK’s first zero-emissions port.

Mr Sellers said: ‘This latest report validates the investment and vision we, and our customers, have for the future of the port.

‘We have a determined strategy to build on these figures, which have grown since our economic report was commissioned.’

Portsmouth is forecast to have a 1.6 per cent GVA growth rate, compared to Southampton's 1.2 per cent.

SJ Hunt, Solent LEP’s business director, said: ‘The role of the port and naval base are well recognised by the LEP as a catalyst for growth in the city and across the Solent.

‘They are central to our world-class maritime and defence sectors and help underpin growth across the city as a whole, providing a key gateway for international trade and our visitor economy.

Hampshire Chamber of Commerce chief executive Ross McNally said: ‘One of the key reasons Portsmouth is experiencing powerful economic growth is the strong and supportive business environment within the city.

‘There has been particularly strong growth in the key business sectors of marine and maritime, advanced manufacturing and engineering, aerospace and defence, plus the growing digital and creative industries sector.

‘The Chamber of Commerce works closely with the city council, Shaping Portsmouth and all major public and private sector partners around bold and ambitious economic development and regeneration goals, looking to deliver 17,000 new homes, 7,000 new jobs, and within an expanding and diversifying economy.’