Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and Southampton City Council Leaders united this month (10th July) to listen to key businesses on their priorities for Solent Metro: a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the region’s transport infrastructure and improve the quality of life of residents, commuters and visitors.
Enabling a much-needed cultural shift away from car use and congestion, the new Metro system is planned to connect key sites from Eastleigh to Southampton and grow economic prosperity in a sustainable and modern way.
Linking local people with local jobs and services, the LEP envisage game-changing efficiencies for businesses and organisations seeking better connections to their customers, workforces and potential labour pools.
Gary Jeffries, Solent LEP Chairman, said:
Through our Ports and Airport, the Solent is truly the best connected area in the country and provides a critical link between the UK economy and international market places. Yet chronic under investment in our local infrastructure has left the Solent struggling to keep pace. Congestion is costing us more than £0.4 billion a year. We cannot afford to keep footing this bill. Solent Metro is our vision for the truly modern, fast and reliable public transport network our region needs to get moving again, boost our business productivity and profit margins, and catalyse further transformational investment into the area. So far, this ambition has been met with support from the business community.
Cllr Simon Letts, Leader of Southampton City Council, said:
Our businesses, our city and our economy are growing everyday, but the benefits of this are being limited by congestion on our roads. If Southampton is to achieve its potential and become a future-facing city that can compete globally, we must better connect local people with the opportunities being created. If we can achieve this, not only will more of our residents feel the benefits of major investment already underway, we will also establish a dynamic city economy with homes, jobs and cultural offers connected together like never before; raising quality of life, boosting footfall for businesses and reducing the impact on our environment. Solent Metro is the key to unlocking this vision.
Tim Keeping, Chairman, Go! Southampton, said:
Southampton is one of the fastest growing cities in the region, with a population of over 250,000 and a catchment area of over two million people. The city centre itself is home to two Universities, a world-class shopping experience and employment for 33,000 people in the city centre alone. We believe there is a real opportunity to create a dynamic, thriving cultural scene in the city. Making it quicker, easier and more reliable for people to get around the city and wider area car-free via Solent Metro would boost our efforts at Go! Southampton to achieving this.
Still at an early stage, the Solent LEP is seeking the views of business on priorities for the new service; including the technology to be used, details of the route, location of stops and proposals for funding the construction cost of the new service.
Businesses that want to find out more, add their support to the proposed Solent Metro or receive updates on progress and how to get involved as the project develops, should contact the Solent LEP at: firstname.lastname@example.org