MPs have praised the appointment of a new ‘growth champion’ for the Solent region.
Jo Johnson MP, the Minister of State for Universities has been handed the role by Business Secretary Greg Clark in a bid to build relationships between local authorities and central government.
I think it shows just how much faith the Government has in the area in regards to the potential the Solent area has to offer with our workforce and skill setSuella Fernandes, MP for Fareham
Mr Johnson will be tasked with the role of acting as an intermediary between the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and the area’s businesses in a bid to secure funding for the area.
The role comes into play less than three weeks after the Government scrapped the Minister for Portsmouth role after two years.
Suella Fernandes, Fareham’s MP said: ‘I’m very confident that Jo will be a big success, and this is really great news for the area.
‘I think it shows just how much faith the Government has in the area in regards to the potential the Solent area has to offer with our workforce and skill set.’
The role will see Mr Johnson assist in bringing forward investment through for the area which he will do through his work with the Solent LEP.
The Solent LEP are an organisation that promotes the area and lobbies the government to bring in much-needed investment.
Caroline Dinenage, MP for Gosport said: ‘I am delighted with the Government’s decision. We have a number of unique attributes in the Solent region. Tailoring industrial strategy to meet local needs and capitalising upon these attributes are vital for effective economic growth.
‘I look forward to working closely with Jo.’
While the Minister for Portsmouth role saw the person look after just one area, Mr Johnson will also act as a growth champion for nine other areas.
These are Greater Cambridge, Greater Peterborough, New Anglia, the South East, Greater Manchester, Coast to Capital (from South London to Brighton), the M3 Corridor, Cheshire and Warrington.
Mr Clark said: ‘Government has helped transform the business landscape by putting power back into the hands of local communities to drive economic growth.
‘To make sure every corner of the UK benefits, I am giving ministers in my team geographic areas of responsibility so they can better connect government policy.’
Penny Mordaunt, MP for Portsmouth North added: ‘I welcome Jo to this new role.
‘We’ve come a long way in the last few years - massively increased jobs and employment across the Solent - but we have yet to reach our full potential. Jo will be focused on ensuring we do.’
Gary Jeffries, chairman of the Solent LEP said: ‘Innovation is at the heart of the Solent LEP’s strategy to transform our economy.
‘Jo Johnson has huge experience working with both universities and businesses in his role and we are looking forward to working with the Minister in his new role in the Solent for the benefit of everybody.’