COMMENT: Solent LEP must start pulling its weight...

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Across the country, Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) have been set up to act as the ‘interface’ between business, education and local authorities to make areas more prosperous and sustainable.  

That’s according to the Solent LEP, which covers the whole of our region. 

So its aim is to boost the local economy and yet those in control of the purse strings at the LEP refuse to fund vital defences that will protect thousands of city homes from rising sea levels. 

That means Portsmouth City Council will have to find another £17m from somewhere. 

Southsea’s homes and businesses are vulnerable and must be protected. 

And there are priceless historic landmarks at risk too. 

But the cost estimates for the work are already soaring. 

The original figure of £114m has leaped to £131m.

Cash-strapped Portsmouth City Council cannot pay to protect Southsea while it is trying to balance the books in light of a huge shortfall of government funding for every day services. 

If the LEP does not stump up the cash, the council will have to pay £24m – but where will it get the cash from? 

Other LEPs have agreed to fund sea defences so why can’t Solent? 

Surely this is exactly the kind of issue the LEP was set up to deal with?

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan has been working hard behind the scenes, lobbying ministers and the LEP to take action and commit to funding the scheme – which could begin as early as spring 2020. 

And he is right when he says it is about time Solent LEP stepped up to the mark and started pulling its weight. 

The public needs to know what is more important than saving homes and business.

And if that does not fall within the LEP’s brief, what is it actually for?