East Anglia: FSB attacks New Anglia LEP board selection process

THE New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership has denied claims that the Chamber of Commerce movement has taken control over the appointment of business representatives to the organisation’s governing board.

New Anglia, which covers Suffolk and Norfolk, is part of a national network of business-led partnerships being set up to replace regional development agencies.

Last week, the Government announced that the British Chambers of Commerce organisation had been appointed to run a new group designed to give LEPs a national voice – a move which sparked complaints from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and the Institute of Directors (IoD) that they had not been consulted.

And yesterday, Chris Soule, the FSB’s Suffolk chairman, said the chamber movement had also been given control of the process for selecting business representatives to serve on the New Anglia board, with the panel consisting of Peter Funnell, current president of Suffolk Chamber, and Peter Barry, a past president of Norfolk Chamber.

Mr Soule said an undertaking had been given last autumn that the panel responsible for the election process would include representatives from groups including, among others, the Chambers, the FSB and the IoD.

“At no stage has the business community given their permission for such an undertaking to be changed, nor through consultation for the chambers to act on behalf of the collective business organisations”, he added.

But a spokesman for New Anglia said yesterday the selection process had been agreed by the LEP’s development group, which included a representative from the FSB.

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He said Dr Funnell and Mr Barry had been chosen to lead the selection process as representatives of the Suffolk and Norfolk business sectors generally, not as representatives of the counties’ chambers of commerce.

The process agreed by the development group had specifically made it clear that there would be no guaranteed seats on the board for business representative bodies, said the spokesman.

The process “has been and is independent, rigorous and transparent”, he added.