Solent Freeport appoints new boss to take the helm of huge plan that could bring billions to UK

THE chairman of the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is stepping down to take on a key role leading the development of the area's new ‘freeport’.

By Tom Cotterill
Monday, 11th April 2022, 2:43 pm
Updated Monday, 11th April 2022, 2:43 pm
Brian Johnson, former chairman of the Solent LEP, is now chairing the Solent Freeport project

Picture: Sarah Standing (142411-6697)
Brian Johnson, former chairman of the Solent LEP, is now chairing the Solent Freeport project Picture: Sarah Standing (142411-6697)

Brian Johnson announced the move during the LEP’s annual general meeting earlier this month.

Mr Johnson, who joined the LEP’s board of directors in 2015, has been appointed as the new chairman of the Solent Freeport Consortium Ltd for the next three years.

The freeport aims to boost the economy and trade around shipping ports or airports. It’s hoped the Solent effort could create 52,000 new jobs and bring billions to the economy.

Mr Johnson, who works for defence giant BAE Systems, was excited by the role and said: ‘I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as chair of the Solent LEP and being part of the team which brought together partner organisations to produce a combined, regional bid for the Solent Freeport.

‘This successful, collaborative approach will ensure a freeport in our region will unlock billions of pounds’ worth of investment, create tens of thousands of new jobs and level up our important coastal communities.’

Rachael Randall, Solent LEP deputy chairman, has now been appointed to lead the business body forward as its new interim chief.

Paying tribute to Mr Johnson’s time at the helm, Rachael said: ‘I am very much looking forward to taking on the role and helping further cement the Solent's trajectory of long-term growth while supporting the Government's Levelling Up ambitions.

‘Brian leaves the LEP in a very strong position after eight years of exceptional service and we look forward to continuing to work closely with him in his new role as Solent Freeport chair.’

The LEP will be hiring new directors in the summer.