Solent Local Enterprise Partnership Approved

Central government approval to create the "Solent LEP" was announced 28 Oct 2010

Update 29 Oct 2010

Of 57 Local Economic Parnership (LEP) proposals received by the government the Solent LEP is among 22 successful bids announced on 29th October.

Partnership for Urban South Hampshire (PUSH) news item here

The News Coverage here

Daily Echo Coverage here

The significance for Daedalus is Solent LEP interest in assuming role and responsibilities from SEEDA. SEEDA owns 27 sites within the geographic area of the LEP, including Daedalus. Discussions regarding transfer of some or all of those sites to the LEP can now proceed on a formal basis.

The LEP aim would be to develop Daedalus as a centre for aviation and marine businesses, creating an aerospace 'cluster' of hig value employers, retaining and exploiting the key infrastructure such as runway and slipway for continued aviation and marine use.

When SEEDA took ownership of Daedalus in 2006 the organisations' publicly declared intent was to develop Aviation and Marine business.

 

Update 29 Sep 2010

The Government is considering at total of 57 LEP Proposals. Business Secretary Vince Cable is reported as saying that most are of poor quality and not candidates to proceed without significant rework (if at all). Some have been reported as being in good shape and likely to get the go ahead in the next few weeks. Which camp the Solent LEP proposal will fall into, time will tell – possibly during October 2010.

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"Solent" is the name chosen for the LEP proposed by a large grouping of South Hampshire and Isle of Wight councils, businesses, academic and volunteer organisations.

If approved by the government the LEP will be created and take on the development role and relevant land banks from South East England Development Agency.

  • What Happens Next: A Bis spokeswoman said that government had not set itself any strict timescale in terms of approving LEP bids, but added she expected some would be "good to go pretty quickly". She said that all local authorities should have had feedback on their proposal by the time of the white paper on sub-national economic growth, due to be published around the same time as the Oct 20 Comprehensive Spending Review. This will also contain more detail on the abolition of RDAs.

The Solent LEP proposal looks to be a strong one given the mass of support that has been gathered in the short period of time since the new government announced its request for LEP proposals. The Solent LEP proposal includes support from 16 private sector general aviation organisations mustered by the LFA, two of whom - Atlas Helicopters and Phoenix Aviation - are named in the summary of supporters.

It is likely the Solent LEP proposal is amongst those that would be "good to go pretty quickly". The timetable appears to be to have a shadow LEP in place Jan 2011, and an operational LEP April 2011.

From a Daedalus perspective the LEP is of interest because it would be the organisation that SEEDA, which is being closed, could expect to transfer its development role and land land-bank to. Discussions regarding land transfer have already begun at SEEDA's request.

SEEDA currently owns the airfield land on which all the hangars (expect MCA), taxiways, parking aprons, and supporting infrastructure and services exist. SEEDA has not developed these but instead simply stopped maintaining them, allowing them to fall into dis-repair - initially because 'they could not spend tax-payers money on these when the strategic future of Daedalus was not known' and later because there 'was no budget for weedkilling or grass-cutting'. Such actions are difficult to reconcile with the re-assurances SEEDA publicly gave local people and their representatives - that SEEDA 'has acquired the Daedalus site for the development of aviation and marine businesses'. Millions of pounds of public money was nevertheless spent on other aspects of the SEEDA Daedalus Project, culminating in the recently published Daedalus Masterplan.

The SEEDA owned land is the equivalent of the stands and off-pitch infractructure at a football stadium. It is where the economic activity should be taking place that creates jobs, revenues and taxes - all of which would then contribute to the maintenance of the 'pitch' (runway) itself - which is an expense, but a very necessary one!

At Daedalus the 'pitch' (runway triangle) is owned by the DfT on behalf of the Maritime Coastguard Agency, whose contractor CHC Helicopters provides the Search and Rescue helicopters. A prime-mover of the LEP, Chairman of PUSH Cllr Seán Woodward, has been quoted in the local media recently regarding the potential for the LEP to work with the MCA/DfT to re-unite the whole airfield operationally under one form of management - a necessary step if Daedalus if to survive and thrive for the benefit of the local and "Solent LEP" economies.

If created, the Solent LEP will form sub-groups to manage and develop the properties in its portfolio. It will be vitally important for general aviation organisations, users, and local representatives to be members of and participate in any such sub-group created for Daedalus Airfield.

To access the Solent LEP Proposal click here.