POOLE Harbour Commissioners boss Jim Stewart has been appointed the new chair of Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

He replaces Gordon Page, former chairman of Cobham PLC, who completed his term of office.

LEPs are partnerships between the private sector and local councils which bid for government grants. Dorset has secured £98.5million under Mr Page’s six-year chairmanship, for projects such as the A338 rebuild and improved roads to the Port of Poole.

Mr Stewart started his career as a shipbroker on the Baltic Exchange in the City of London. He has managed shipping companies in the UK and overseas since 1988.

He was appointed chief executive of Poole Harbour Commissioners in 2002 and has been a board member of the British Ports Association Council since then.

He said: “I am both delighted and honoured to have been selected for this important role, particularly during this exciting time with so much growth activity taking place across Dorset, helping to create jobs and strengthen the local economy.

“I am committed to ensuring the success of Dorset’s vision for a sustainable, competitive and innovative economy, as well as helping to guide the LEP’s work on attracting and retaining high skilled workers and delivering accessible and affordable housing.

“Dorset’s sector strengths in finance, advanced engineering, agriculture, tourism and the creative industries has made it an attractive place to do business and I look forward to playing a more pivotal role in helping our private and public sector partners to further realise its economic potential. “

Dorset LEP director Lorna Carver said: “Jim is a very well-respected business leader and has a very good understanding of the key economic challenges and opportunities that we currently face in Dorset.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our previous chair Gordon Page for his invaluable strategic leadership and guidance over the last six years and for helping us to achieve some major successes including securing £98.5 million in local growth funding for Dorset and attaining Enterprise Zone status for the new Dorset Innovation Park. I look forward to working closely with Jim and the rest of the board on delivering more economic successes across the county.”