A BID for a £1.5bn package that would bring thousands of jobs into the Solent region has been officially lodged today.

Southampton and Portsmouth have joined forces to compete for the government's new City Deals skills which will mean the two cities can decide for themselves how investment is spent.

The two ports are the only cities in the country to launch a joint bid.

City bosses hope by joining forces they can create a globally competitive maritime economy by building on expertise in the commercial port of Southampton, Portsmouth dockyards, plus dozens of boat builders and supply companies.

Southampton City Council leader Cllr Richard Williams said: "Both cities are committed to working together for the common benefit, especially improving employment and skills development.

“In the current climate, with the recent announcement regarding Ford in Southampton, it's right that we work closely with the government to realise the economic potential of the area.”

If the cities win the City Deal status, Southampton would benefit from expanding its port, creating 4,000 new jobs and kick starting the redevelopment of Royal Pier which could generate 6,000 new jobs.

It would also enable the city centre development to fast track the council's and partners' master plan vision for regeneration and economic development and lure investment in the Itchen riverside to create new homes, retail and business opportunities The Solent area as a whole would benefit from greater negotiating powers with major public sector landowners, helping to unlock key development sites.

Skills could be boost in the area, linking training directly to what local businesses need while greater influence would be created with national bodies that run key assets, like the Highways Agency and the Environment Agency.

And it would enable the ability to use reserves held by councils, backed by financial guarantees from central government and pooling various sources of funding for growth into a single pot Portsmouth would benefit from the transformation of the naval base to meet increased demand for servicing ships - unlocking investment, safeguarding current jobs and creating new jobs massive investment in the development of Tipner, with about 1,600 jobs.

It would also help in creating the new Northern Quarter shopping, housing and leisure development in the city centre, with 2,000 new jobs.