‘We are urging key ministers to listen to us’, says Solent LEP director

Sean Woodward
Sean Woodward
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AS The News continues to support the £300m bid that will help bring prosperity to the region, Solent LEP director Sean Woodward talks about why we should be given it

The government invited bids from Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) for five-year investment plans to drive economic growth.

The Solent LEP is the country’s only completely elected LEP comprising council leaders, businesspeople and the education sector.

Everyone on it is democratically elected whether by Solent businesses, Solent universities or Solent councils.

The LEP has put forward a very ambitious plan with a bid for £300m of government funding. Without this investment the Solent area will continue to lag behind the remainder of south east England.

The investment will not only improve our infrastructure for existing residents and businesses but will make the area one in which future businesses will choose to invest.

The top priority packages in the bid are for a £90m investment in the access to Fareham and Gosport, and a £14m investment to fund the completion of Whiteley Way and unlock a proposed 3,500-home development.

I strongly support both.

If successful, the Fareham bid will bring forward over £500m of private sector investment in 6,000 new homes and 10,000 jobs.

It will finally ease bottlenecks on the roads from Gosport via Peel Common roundabout either via a new Stubbington bypass and an improved A27 through Titchfield, St Margaret’s Lane roundabout and to Segensworth and junction nine of the M27, or otherwise via a new Newgate Lane South, the already under-construction improved Newgate Lane North to Fareham.

On the M27 an all-moves junction 10 motorway junction will not only serve the new community of Welborne but will also ease traffic on the M27 between Portsmouth and Southampton.

The investment also includes money to improve roads in North Fareham and will improve access to the Solent Enterprise Zone at the former HMS Daedalus where the new advanced engineering college (CEMAST) will open this year and the business innovation centre creating 150 new jobs next year.

For generations, most government investment has gone to the north, yet we have communities here in south Hampshire that would not look out of place in some northern cities in terms of deprivation – worklessness and low educational attainment.

I applaud The News for supporting this campaign and implore the decision-making ministers to listen to the pleas we have made and act positively to support them.

To prosper we need new jobs and new homes for local people.

The investment we are asking for will enable both to happen and the Solent area to become the economic powerhouse of the south east.

£300m campaign

THE News has launched a campaign backing the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership’s bid to secure £300m from the government to make improvements.

The bulk of the money would go on improving road networks across the Portsmouth region to help unblock links to key employment sites such as the Solent Enterprise Zone and Welborne.

That would then give more employers the confidence to move to those areas and create more jobs. Developers would then come along to ensure there is more housing for growing workforces.

There are LEPs countrywide bidding for some of the £10bn pot of cash, which is available until 2020.

We are helping to lobby the men in government involved in making the decision on who gets what – Michael Heseltine and ministers Greg Clark, Robert Goodwill and Kris Hopkins – and making the case that we need the cash to ensure our economy grows.