Solent Freeport Consortium Ltd, Board Chair

Body: Solent Freeport Consortium Ltd
Appointing Department: Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Sector: Business, Finance & Skills
Location: Regular attendance at meetings within the Solent Freeport Consortium Ltd area and occasional requirement to travel nationally and internationally
Skills required: Major Projects, Transformation
Number of Vacancies: 1
Remuneration: Annual fee of £12,000 subject to tax and NI contributions as applicable. No pension entitlement. Alternatively, the candidate may elect to take on the role as a voluntary position. In either case, reasonable expenses will be paid (in line with Solent Freeport Consortium Ltd Policies)
Time Requirements: Average of two days per week, on a flexible basis (with regular requirement to attend meetings with HM Government at short notice)

This is not a ministerial appointment.

Campaign Timeline

  • Competition Launched


  • Closed for Applications


  • Panel Sift


  • Final Interview Date


  • Announcement


Vacancy Description

The Solent Freeport Consortium Ltd is a company limited by guarantee and was incorporated on 15 March 2021. Details on the Governance arrangements for the Company are set out in the Company’s Articles of Association, which are available here.

The company has been established in response to the Government announcing the Solent as one of just eight Freeports in England at the March 2021 budget. Freeports are a flagship government programme designed to play an important part in the UK’s post-Covid economic recovery and contribute to realising the levelling up agenda, bringing jobs, investment and prosperity to some of the most deprived communities across the four nations of the UK with targeted and effective support.

As set out in the Freeport Prospectus, candidate Freeports are required to complete a ‘set-up’ phase for achieving Freeport designation, culminating in the approval of a Full Business Case (FBC). Approval of an earlier Outline Business Case (OBC) will allow for the formal designation of the Freeport customs and tax sites following successful authorisation processes. The FBC will make the final, full case for capital seed funding and the use of all levers (e.g. rates, incentives, regulatory etc) to best deliver the policy objectives. Approval of this will allow for the formal designation of the Freeport, conferring of all associated legal powers, and a Section 31 grant to be issued for the capital funding.

To start this work, The Solent Freeport Consortium Ltd needs to demonstrate an appropriate proposal for the Governance and Capacity required to oversee this ‘set-up’ phase. Appropriate Governance arrangements are critical for delivering to the ambitious timescale for formal designation and ensuring that appropriate measures of accountability and transparency are in place for the effective management of public funds.

The subsequent Business Case will include a management case where governance arrangements for the ongoing delivery of the Solent Freeport will be detailed and existing arrangements will be reviewed throughout this process to ensure governance for ongoing delivery is effective.

The Government expects a high level of continuity between Set up and Delivery Phase governance and the corporate structure adopted by the Solent Freeport will continue into the Delivery Phase. In this phase, the Board of the Solent Freeport Consortium Ltd will have overall accountability for the delivery of all aspects of the Solent Freeport proposal. This includes, but may not be limited to, planning, innovation, trade and investment promotion, tax site delivery and operation, customs site delivery and operation, the use of retained business rates, skills and regeneration, alignment with wider initiatives, stakeholder engagement, security and compliance, Net Zero, risk management, and M&E and reporting. The Chair will play a key role in ensuring that the Board can discharge these responsibility.

Portsmouth City Council is the accountable body for The Solent Freeport Consortium Ltd and in this role is accountable for the proper use and administration of funding, all of which will fall under the annual audit of the local authorities accounts, and for ensuring that decisions are made in accordance with HM Government requirements.

The role

The leadership that the Solent Freeport Consortium Ltd Chair provides is central to the success of the company. As such, the Solent Freeport Consortium Ltd is seeking to recruit a Chair that is an influential business leader, who can act as a champion for the Freeport’s economic success. The Chair requires sufficient standing to be able to convene the local business community and public sector stakeholders, whilst having the insight to oversee the development of a business plan and the relationship skills to work effectively with Government.
Given their role involves overseeing public funds and responsibilities; the Chair is expected to display the highest levels of integrity and honesty.

The Solent Freeport Chair has a defined term limit of three years. In exceptional circumstances, and subject to the agreement of the Solent Freeport Consortium Ltd Board, the tenure may be extended to a second term of a further three years.

The Chair requires a strong and detailed appreciation of, and interest in, the strategic issues relating to, and drivers of, the economy of the Solent Freeport area and the various opportunities and challenges involved in securing sustainable, private sector-led economic growth and job creation. In addition, the Chair will need a strong track record in international trade, innovation and a demonstrable commitment to supporting national and local ambitions for net zero.

In line with best practice set out in the UK Corporate Governance Code, we are also seeking to appoint a truly independent Chair. Candidates are asked to consider this definition carefully in advance of submitting an application, which will include whether the candidate:

  • Has, or has had within the last three years, a material business relationship with the company either directly, or as a partner, shareholder, director or senior employee of a body that has such a relationship with the company.
  • Holds cross-directorships or has significant links with other directors through involvement in other companies or bodies.
  • Has close family ties with any of the company’s advisers, directors or senior employees.

In terms of time commitments, it is expected that the Freeport Consortium Limited Chair will offer an equivalent of 2 days per week on average and the Chair should have sufficient time to meet their board responsibilities.

The time commitment to engage with Company Members and other key stakeholders and get to know the business will be considerable. The Chair will also receive high-quality information sufficiently in advance of meetings so that there can be thorough consideration of the issues prior to, and informed debate and challenge at, board meetings.

Executive contact names and numbers will be published on all papers so the Chair can seek clarification or amplification from management where they consider the information provided is not sufficient. They should provide constructive challenge, strategic guidance, specialist advice and hold management to account.

The Chair can access impartial advice and support through the Freeport Consortium Limited Executive team. This support is currently provided by the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership, however, the Chair will also have a key role in leading the establishment of long-term executive support arrangements for the company.

The Solent Freeport Chief Executive will report to the Solent Freeport Chair and, in addition to this executive support, the Solent Freeport Consortium Ltd will also appoint a Deputy Chair in order to provide non-executive support to the Chair.

On appointment to the board the Freeport Consortium Limited Chair will be provided with a comprehensive, formal and tailored induction that will extend beyond the boardroom and they will be expected to undertake some external formal training to ensure they are fully briefed on the role of the Chair and the best practice requirements under the UK Corporate Governance Code. In their first year and on an ongoing basis they should expect to visit operations and talk with managers and non-managerial members of the workforce.

The Freeport Consortium Limited Chair should use these conversations to better understand the culture of the organisation and the way things are done in practice, and to gain insight into the experience of the executive of the Freeport Consortium Limited. Directors’ duties are set out in sections 171-177 of the Companies Act 2006 and the Articles of Association of the Solent Freeport Consortium Ltd.

Person Specification

Due to the extremely high profile nature of the role, the SFCL is seeking very prominent business leaders as candidates for the role of SFCL Chair that meet the person specification set out in the Role Description here.

SFCL is committed to having a Board which embraces diversity and promotes equality of opportunity within the Solent economy. In line with this commitment, the opportunity to apply for the role of Chair is open to business leaders from all backgrounds and businesses of all sizes and sectors.

Applications are encouraged from credible people who can see the bigger strategic picture, offer challenge and insight and genuinely input into the process of advancing the SFCL’s agenda of fostering real and positive change in the Solent region for the ultimate benefit of all. Strong partnership skills are essential and candidates will need to be collegiate and collaborative in their style and approach.

A full role description and person specification can be found here.

The Solent Freeport Consortium Ltd has embraced the values as set out in the Nolan Principles and we expect everyone who works in and with the Solent Freeport in any capacity, including the Board of Directors, employees of the company and Accountable Body, contractors, agency staff, volunteers and people undertaking commissions on our behalf to display these behaviours at all times.

The Solent Freeport Consortium Ltd also expects that everyone who works in and with the Freeport to act in such a manner as to justify public trust and confidence and to uphold and enhance the good standing and reputation of the Solent Freeport. We are also committed to equality and valuing diversity within our workforce and we operate in-line with the Equality and Diversity Strategy of Portsmouth City Council, our accountable body. Individuals must therefore at all times carry out their duties with due regard to our Equality at Work policy. Our goal is to ensure that these commitments, reinforced by our values, are embedded in our day-to-day working practices with all our stakeholders, colleagues and partners.

How to Apply

If you would like to apply to become the Solent Freeport Consortium Ltd Chair, please send us:

  • A covering letter highlighting why you are interested in the post, the skills and experience you possess which you feel would be most relevant to the role and how you meet each of the person specification requirements listed in the person specification.
    Please note that applicants who would not be considered independent under the UK Corporate Governance Code are asked to provide an explanation within the covering letter to their application, setting out the rationale as to why the Solent Freeport Consortium Ltd should consider such an appointment.
  • Your curriculum vitae (CV)

The preferred method of application is online at

If you are unable to apply online please email your application to

All applications will receive an automated response.

All candidates are also requested to complete an online Equal Opportunities Monitoring Form which will be found at the end of the application process.

For detailed information on how Berwick Partners process your personal data, please review their privacy policy on their website

In line with GDPR, we ask that you do NOT send us any information that can identify children or any of your Sensitive Personal Data (racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, trade union membership, data concerning health or sex life and sexual orientation, genetic and/or biometric data) in your CV and application documentation. Following this notice, any inclusion of your Sensitive Personal Data in your CV/application documentation will be understood by us as your express consent to process this information going forward.

Please also remember to not mention anyone’s information or details (e.g. referees) who have not previously agreed to their inclusion.

If you have any queries or would like more information in regard to this document, please contact: Marek Dobrowolski, Partner, on 0121 654 5975 (direct dial); 07793 529 576 (mobile) or email

Please note that documents submitted as part of your Chair application will be shared with Solent Freeport Consortium Ltd Remuneration, Employment and Nominations Committee (RENCOM) members; the Solent Freeport Consortium Ltd Company Secretary, and Portsmouth City Council (as accountable body to the Solent Freeport) in order to assess your application against the eligibility criteria in the person specification. If your application is considered to be eligible for consideration, these documents will be shared with all Solent Freeport Consortium Ltd Directors in order to inform the shortlisting and appointment process.

Your covering letter and CV will only be used to ensure eligibility against the criteria published in this document and inform the shortlisting for the role.


Solent Freeport Chair Role Description and Spec FINAL REV2
Solent Freeport Chair Recruitment Pack FINAL REV

This post is NOT regulated by The Commissioner for Public Appointments.

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