Commenting on the Communities and Local Government Committee report on Localism published today, Dr Adam Marshall, Director of Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, said:

“The Commons Committee report is right to highlight that localism needs a clearer definition, and in calling for greater clarity as to how Whitehall and local government will work together. Both the Committee and the Government must also remember that councils must be accountable to businesses as well as local residents. Local companies must be seen as constituents, not just tick-box consultees.

“One of the areas of greatest concern to business is the potential for the localism agenda to further complicate the planning system. For too long, the scales have been weighted against companies seeking to expand their premises and invest in their local areas, despite taking a responsible and sustainable approach to development.

“As the Localism bill enters the House of Lords, we urge Ministers to ensure it delivers a business-friendly planning system. Growth requires greater clarity and certainty for the thousands of companies up and down the UK that face repeated planning delays, spiralling costs, and spurious objections that stifle growth and jobs. The government has rightly recognised that businesses play an important role in communities, and have amended the bill to ensure that local companies have a voice in local planning decisions. This is a positive step, but there is still much more to be done to deliver a cost-effective, timely and efficient planning process that gives businesses confidence to invest.”

Tim Hutchings, Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce & Industry Chief Executive, supported Adam’s comments saying,” it is essential that government and local authorities do not abdicate their responsibility to make the tough decisions. Whilst we support the principles of ’localism’ there will still be occasions when those we have elected will need to step to make the right decision. I am really concerned that unless we recognise that the loudest voices are not always correct in their assessment of various applications we will end up achieving a stalemate with result that businesses might stagnate and desperately needed jobs will be put in jeopardy”.