Caroline has worked tirelessly to fulfil her election pledge to secure the best future for the Daedalus site, a disused former Military Airfield, to increase jobs and skills in our area. In October 2010, she organised and chaired a mini summit with all the key stakeholders which formed the Daedalus Strategy Group which met regularly from 2010-2015. The group was instrumental in Daedalus’ successful bid to become an Enterprise Zone and successive funding bids which have seen over £50 million invested in the site by various bodies. She continues to work closely with the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership, Homes England and other stakeholders and has welcomed a number of key Government Ministers to the site.
Daedalus is now well on its way to meeting its potential to provide the community with jobs, training and an economic boost. Between 2014 and 2017, three key centres (Centre of Excellence in Engineering, Manufacturing and Advanced Skills Training; Civil Engineering Training Centre; The Innovation Centre) opened on the Daedalus site, with the former two offering thousands of students training and apprenticeships in specialised engineering, manufacturing, construction and groundwork. The Innovation Centre, by providing office space, workshop facilities and financial advice, provide continual support to new businesses within the engineering, aerospace, aviation and marine industries. Full to capacity within its first year, in February 2017, a £6.6m extension to the Innovation Centre was announced. The expansion was completed in July 2018, doubling the size, creating 33 new office units, five new workshops and new parking spaces as well as 300 new jobs.
The Daedalus park has, provided much needed business units for a range of small businesses. The second phase of units are currently being built and nearly all of these have already been snapped up.
Following the closure of the Lee-on-the-Solent Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Caroline worked hard to retain coastguard facilities and jobs at the Daedalus site and campaigned to see the new Maritime Operations Centre based locally at Titchfield. Britten Norman, the only independent civil aircraft manufacturer in the UK, are already based at Daedalus and have announced that they are creating a further 50 jobs, whilst The Solent Enterprise Zone has already created and/or safeguarded around 1000 full time jobs at Daedalus.
Caroline is a keen supporter of apprenticeship schemes, and even completed her own mini-apprenticeship as a barista at Costa Coffee on Gosport High Street. She also ran a campaign to shine a light on the diversity of apprenticeships in the Gosport Constituency, which culminated in the learners being invited to Parliament and greeted by the then Apprenticeships and Skills Minister, the Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP. In a similar entrepreneurial vein, Caroline was thrilled to welcome the Governments Start-Up Loan initiative, which has helped 37 local businesses across Gosport. Supporting newly-created enterprises, the initiative has nationally lent £436 million to 57,000 companies, creating more than 56,600 jobs.
In her early weeks as an MP, Caroline successfully campaigned against the Defence Training Review which would have seen the Royal Navy School of Engineering at HMS Sultan moved to South Wales. However, in November 2016, the Defence Estate Review announced that HMS Sultan would be disposed of by 2026. Caroline urged the Government to reconsider its decision and in February 2019 it was announced that the closure of HMS Sultan would be delayed. She continues to lobby the Government to ensure that HMS Sultan remains open.
Having frequently met with the owners of the Haslar Hospital estate, Caroline continues to pressure them to secure a positive future and local jobs on this much loved site, which was sold off by the previous Labour Government. She hopes that the widely stated plans for the site will come to fruition.