34 members attended the NFBP Marine Sector breakfast on Thursday 4 February, representing a wide range of New Forest businesses within the sector and who do business with the sector. The meeting was addressed by Martin Aldridge, Director of NFBP member accountants Princecroft Willis, who provided an overview of the marine economy locally and nationally and described a generally positive outlook. The UK marine industry has maintained a positive growth trend since 2011/12, with industry growth estimated at 1.1%, compared to UK GDP growth for 2015 of 2.3%. Martin described the marine sector in and around the New Forest as being worth more than £760m a year, with thriving manufacturing and leisure sectors, and closed by outlining the key opportunities within the marine sector.
The meeting then heard from Sam Vaughan, Regional Executive for British Marine and Anthony Climpson, Employment and Tourism Manager for New Forest District Council, who led a discussion to identify the key issues for New Forest businesses and the way forward. These included working closer and better together, the need for space for employment use, promoting liquidity and efficiency for local businesses, buying locally, promoting the relationship between the Solent and the New Forest, telling our stories in a more compelling way to a wider audience, getting involved in the marine sector is not just for the wealthy, promoting skills and apprenticeships for young people in the marine sector, and considering the effects of the proposed Marine Conservation Zone off the Needles.