Examination of Witnesses (Questions 437-439)|
18 MAY 2004
Q437 Mr Betts: Good morning. Welcome
to the Committee. Perhaps for the sake of our records you could
Mr Sugden: I am Andrew Sugden.
I am Director of Policy and Representation at the North East Chamber
of Commerce. The North East Chamber of Commerce represents 5,000
businesses in the North East of England with a remit to achieve
more business, secure better conditions for business and enable
our members to do more profitable business.
Mr James: My name is Tim James.
I am the Area Manager for the North East Chamber of Commerce for
the area of Tyne & Wear. My responsibility is to look after
the representational interests of 230 members. I work with five
metropolitan authorities. I also work with the police and the
fire authority. I have been with the Chamber for 21 years and
I have 10 years experience in local government consultations with
the business community. I am also familiar with the situation
that prevailed before the national non-domestic rate. I am a member
of the Valuation Office Agency Panel for Newcastle and Gateshead,
which is engaged with making sure businesses understand the revaluation
process. Our policy is really to have constructive engagement
with local authorities, bringing the private sector view to bear.
Mr Shakeshaft: I am Phil Shakeshaft.
I am the Head of Strategy with the Regional Development Agency
One North East for the four counties Northumberland, Tyne &
Wear, Durham and the Tees Valley in the North East of England.
Q438 Mr Betts: Do any of you have anything
to say by way of introduction or can we go straight into questions?
Mr Sugden: We particularly welcome
the opportunity to contribute to the Committee from the North
East Chamber of Commerce's point of view, representing the views
of a large number of businesses in an economically challenged
part of the world.
Q439 Mr O'Brien: Could I put to both
your organisations the question of the economic development in
the North East. What are the main problems facing the region?
Are they helped by the present system of local government finance
and organisation, do you think?
Mr Shakeshaft: There are a number
of problems but the seriously significant ones are the lack or
low levels of business stock in the region and the low rate of
growth. The national rate of growth of the business stock is about
5.7% and in the North East it is 1.7%. In some areas it is nearly