The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has responded to the Government's consultation on Local Enterprise Partnerships. Retailers are generally positive about the impending changes but have some reservations.
Retailers support the drive for more business involvement in local decision making, but have concerns about how plans to devolve power could impact on national businesses.
In its submission to the Government’s consultation on Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), the BRC said retailers are already actively working with local partners and are keen that LEPs are successful in achieving their aim of delivering sustainable local economic development.
But the BRC wants reassurances LEPs will have enough central guidance to adopt a common approach to avoid national retailers facing the uncertainty and extra costs of coping with a mass of different regulatory regimes.
LEPs, which will replace Regional Development Agencies, could be given wide-ranging local decision making powers over areas such as planning, transport and infrastructure.
Stephen Robertson, British Retail Consortium Director General, said, “Retailers are already working with others in local communities to create the best possible environments in which to trade, shop and live.
“We support the idea of greater local involvement in decision making. But the benefits of local decision making must be balanced against the extra costs and uncertainty that could be imposed on national businesses. Coping with a myriad of different regulatory regimes across the country would be a tough new burden for multiple retailers.
“Given the substantial powers that LEPs could be given, it’s crucial they have the right expertise and sufficient funding to meet any new responsibilities.
“To ensure business views are fairly represented, we agree with the Government that the boards of LEPs should be chaired by a prominent business leader, with the rest of the membership consisting of equal private and public representation.”
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