The Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has welcomed the opportunity to work in partnership with the Isle of Wight, Portsmouth and Southampton City Council's to bring forward a proposal for a Solent Combined Authority.
The proposal follows the publication of a Strategic Transport Investment Plan for the Solent, which calls for transformational levels of investment into the areas infrastructure, further building on the Solent LEPs current £151.9m Growth Deal investment.
Central to the LEPs vision for the Solent is the need for a modern and resilient transport network that can enable the area to fulfil its economic potential by providing the conditions that enable businesses and people to thrive and productivity to increase.
It is expected that government would give a Solent Combined Authority control of approximately £30m of additional funding per year for the next 30 years to improve the infrastructure in South Hampshire and the Isle of Wight and It would control a dedicated transport budget, franchised bus services and the network of strategic local authority-maintained roads.
The deal would also enable all of the business rates generated in the area to be retained locally; meaning the area it would have better control of its financial future.
A combined authority would have responsibility for working with key partners such as Solent LEP to increase business productivity, create more and better jobs, and aligning adult education and training to local business needs. Bringing these responsibilities together in the Solent area will create more certainty for businesses investment, simplify and strengthen support for business growth and innovation as well as focusing training in the skills local businesses need. As a result, more people would get jobs, businesses would prosper, and the whole of South Hampshire & the Isle of Wight would become better off.
Gary Jeffries, Solent LEP Chairman, said:
An additional £30m per year investment in the infrastructure of our area has the potential to make a major contribution to business growth and productivity. However, there is also an opportunity for the emerging Solent Combined Authority to align with the work of the LEP to have an even greater impact on the future our economy.
The LEP will shortly be engaging with business members and key stakeholders across the Solent area to discuss the proposal and to explore how a Solent Combined Authority could work most effectively to address the needs of business.