Commenting on the publication of the Localism Bill, Dr Adam Marshall, Director of Policy and External Affairs at the BCC, said:
“While localism could enable communities to promote private-sector growth across England, we are concerned that some of the plans revealed in the Localism Bill have the potential to block or damage company expansion.
“Everyone agrees that the planning system must be made simpler and faster for businesses seeking to develop new sites or expand existing premises, wherever they are in the country. New incentives to encourage councils to promote business growth are a step in the right direction. Yet some of the proposals in the Bill could have unintended consequences - with local businesses’ growth plans shackled or stifled at the hands of an agitated few.
"Businesses have deep concerns about the planning proposals in the Localism Bill. They also face a period of uncertainty as new rules are implemented. This could stop both small- and large-scale investments during 2011, which should be a year for growth.
“We will work constructively with the Government to try to address these concerns - but will also campaign to ensure that NIMBYism does not stifle the private-sector growth that is needed to create jobs and prosperity in all our communities."
On proposed changes to the way business rates are managed, he said:
“The Government’s plan to give businesses a vote whenever a supplement is levied on business rates is exactly what Chambers of Commerce have campaigned for. We cannot have higher local business taxation in any area unless the local business community gives its backing – for example, to pay for a critical local transport project.
“Companies tell us that they remain opposed to returning full control over business rates to local councils. As the Government gears up to review the business rates system early next year, we will oppose any move to give councils greater rate-raising powers without the full consent of the local business community. A year for growth would be stifled if businesses were forced to shoulder unfair and undemocratic tax rises to offset cuts in local council spending.”