Why a unified narrative for Hampshire is the key to devolution - Paris Smith Skip to content

Anh Stewart | 2nd November 2023

Why a unified narrative for Hampshire is the key to devolution

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Anh Stewart | 2nd November 2023

Why a unified narrative for Hampshire is the key to devolution


Paris Smith today released a special report on how to unlock Hampshire’s potential

Paris Smith today released their white paper, ‘Unlocking Hampshire’s Potential’, which uncovers the key to successful delivery of a unified narrative for Hampshire.

Peter Taylor, Senior Partner at Paris Smith:

“Hampshire’s diverse assets provide the ingredients for a compelling story. However, it is vital that stakeholders speak with one voice to attract and retain investment. The findings in this report provide a roadmap grounded in the insights of local leaders. I am grateful to the many contributors for sharing their expertise; together we can build on this momentum to champion the county’s immense potential regionally, nationally and internationally.”

The report engaged with a diverse group of stakeholders representing government, local industries and non-profit organisations, to identify the key opportunities and challenges facing Hampshire’s economic growth and development. The report makes clear that collaboration and balance will be key in capturing the public and private sector imagination – and ensuring that the county continues to thrive for generations to come. Promotion of Hampshire’s many attractions must receive equal weighting to deprivation issues, where external economic and political support is needed for levelling up. The report concludes that fallout from Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic, combined with the cost-of-living crisis and the competition for levelling up funds, means that complacency isn’t an option; the time to act is now.

Ross McNally, Executive Chair of the Hampshire Chamber of Commerce:

“We’re all looking at the same mountain but from different perspectives. Just think how powerful it would be if we could all work together.”

The key recommendation of the report is to aim for devolution. A strong mayoral office and infrastructure will provide the necessary central leadership, putting Hampshire on the map with external stakeholders, while promoting internal progress.
In the wait for devolution, the report outlines the steps that will be required:

Levelling up – There is an imbalance between funds heading to the North and South of the country. This needs to be redressed with a sustained campaign that focuses on Hampshire’s strong Return on Investment.

Southern Gateway – In the absence of, or in conjunction with, a devolved mayoral power, a lobbying group with a strong voice is needed. Hampshire is the UK’s Southern Gateway and this needs to be emphasised both at home and abroad.

Solent Freeport – A long-term plan is needed to ensure transport infrastructure is available to support the Freeport zone. Businesses that open within the zone must provide high skill STEM jobs that add value.

Maritime, transport, green technology and defence – Hampshire should encourage hubs that leverage off existing strengths, such as the maritime industry. Initiatives such as the Solent Cluster, organisations like the National Oceanography Centre and hubs along the M3 corridor will help establish a self-sustaining environment while providing a strong foundation for attracting foreign investment.

Skills & education – Gaps exist, particularly at the school level. Support in STEM and vocational subjects will help nurture talent and attract high value industries. Greater collaboration is needed between businesses and educational bodies to build appropriate curriculums and invest in local programmes.

Culture, tourism & lifestyle – A joined up, county-wide approach (including an LVEP bid) is needed to push the tourism agenda, retain cruise passengers and make Hampshire an attractive place to visit and live for high value workers. Greater investment into housing and retail are required.

The report can be downloaded for free: https://parissmith.co.uk/whitepaper2023

Contributors to the white paper:

Aaron Butson, Assistant Principal, Havant & South Downs College, Alastair Welch, Regional Director for Associated British Ports, Alice Kloker, Stakeholder Engagement Manager at the National Oceanography Centre, Carey Moore, Senior Manager, NatWest Group, Southampton, Claire Whitaker, CEO Southampton Forward, David French, CEO University Hospital Southampton NHS, James Cretney, CEO Marwell Wildlife, Julian Gray, PWC Regional Market Leader for the South East, Laura Read, General Manager of the Westquay shopping centre, Professor Mark E Smith, President & Vice-Chancellor of the University of Southampton, Matthew Wragg, CEO international recruiter, Gattaca, Rob Humby, Hampshire County Council Leader, Ross McNally, Executive Chair, Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, Stef Nienaltowski, CEO Shaping Portsmouth.

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