Companies have welcomed proposals in the government’s White Paper on Local Government which could lead to more effective local management of economic development.

However, councils will need the help of their local business community to drive the county economy forward, said Richard Lacy, chief executive of The Chamber, which represents businesses in Bedfordshire and Luton. He added that the government had called for strong leadership.

“The Chamber believes the business community has a great deal to offer in this regard. Local government alone cannot solve the problems in a community so it is vital that closer links are forged with businesses.”

Mr Lacy (pictured) supported proposals for greater self-determination for local councils, which in turn offered more scope for effective management of economic development.
He said: “However, we must resist parochialism at all costs, which serves only to obstruct attempts to build our local economies.

“Visionary local government is still the exception rather than the rule with too few councils understanding the importance of economic development.”

Mr Lacy emphasised the importance of accountability to the business community. He said: “It is crucial that any devolution of power is not seen as an opportunity for council’s to get their hands on local business rates.

“Businesses already struggle under an oppressive burden of tax and regulation and the last thing they need is local authorities seeing them as a cash cow to be raided at any time.”

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