Bosses attack Heseltine growth bid
A report by former Tory cabinet minister Lord Heseltine aimed at boosting economic growth in the regions has come under attack from business groups.
Lord Heseltine urged the Government to shift power and billions of pounds of funds away from Whitehall to "unleash the power" of cities such as Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle.
The former Conservative deputy prime minister said too much power had been accumulated in London as he called for public money to "mobilise the potential" of provincial English cities.
But business leaders raised concerns about some aspects of the 228-page report, which made scores of recommendations affecting government departments, agencies and industry groups.
Labour said it was a "damning indictment" of the Government that a former Conservative cabinet minister was calling for a plan for growth half-way through the Parliament.
Simon Walker, director general of the Institute of Directors, said Lord Heseltine's proposals on foreign investment into the UK were "worrying", adding: "The idea that we should be suspicious of people from around the world putting the money into our country is misguided.
"We should be looking at ways to encourage and invite investors to back British enterprise and infrastructure projects, not reverting to government-run public interest tests which make it more difficult for them to do so."
John Walker, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: "To create a stable environment for businesses to thrive, the FSB would encourage the Government to look to the success of the US Small Business Administration.
"Instead of pooling enterprise funding and central staff, Lord Heseltine should have looked at good practice from across the world, such as the SBA, and recommended a better policy making machine and an agency which co-ordinates small business policy such as lending, procurement and exporting."
British Retail Consortium director general Stephen Robertson said: "Moving spending powers from Whitehall to other tiers of government isn't the answer. We've seen regional policies come and go."