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CHAMBERS ENDORSE REGIONAL AGENCIES

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The government's intention of creating strong economic development agencies has been endorsed by the British Chambe...
The government's intention of creating strong economic development agencies has been endorsed by the British Chambers of Commerce, reports the Financial Times (p9).

In a report published yesterday, the BCC say that improved regional structures could help tackle shortcomings on issues affecting business such as transport, labour markets, land use, business support, inward investment, tourism, regeneration and European funding.

The report goes on to say that too many organisations are involved in economic development and regeneration while regional strategic planning is dominated by central government. The FT singles out criticism of the arrangement in English regions which have nothing to compare with the powerful set-up in Scotland or Wales. The report proposes absorbing the functions of English Partnerships and the Rural Development Commission within the one agency. Previous economic projects, it was noted, had been hindered by too much paperwork in too many different departments.

Finally, although there is 'little appetite' in the business community for full-scale elected regional government in England, the BCC condones it. The report proposes establishing regional economic partnerships, with membership drawn from public and private sector bodies including local authorities, chambers of commerce, training and enterprise councils and trade unions. The BCC outlines a framework that would develop economic strategy in each region, in a way similar to proposals from some local authorities.
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