Greater Manchester Chamber sidesteps CBI landgrab bid

Clive Memmott

The Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce has declined to weigh in to the audacious land grab by the British Chambers of Commerce to be the national voice of big business.

Asked to comment on the move by The British Chambers of Commerce to establish a Business Council, Clive Memmott OBE, Chief Executive of Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce told said:

“We note with interest the announcement of a new Business Council by the BCC. Here at GMCC and in the city region we’re more focussed on business representation that reflects the radically changed economic and political landscape where GM has set the pace on devolution for the rest of the country. 

“Large city regions like our own need to ensure that our voice is heard directly in central government and not through a third party. That’s what we’re doing and that’s what our focus is along with our partners and the businesses in GM. There will continue to be a role for national representation on some critical common issues but let me be absolutely clear – on issues affecting GM it’s the voices from GM that need to be, and will be, heard.

“As City Regions such as Greater Manchester evolve and get greater devolved powers such as those in the Trailblazer devolution deal announced in the Spring Budget, we feel that the focus for our members and the wider business community has to reflect that more decision making that impacts local business is now undertaken locally.

“We will watch these latest and ongoing developments with interest.”

The London Chamber of Commerce was far more bullish in a statement on Monday (5 June 2023) as Richard Burge, Chief Executive of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), said he welcomed the decision to launch a new Business Council.

“The UK business community is a unique and diverse ecosystem. For too long, businesses have been constrained by a form of policy monoculture, where one overarching organisation has monopolised engagement with Government on the major issues facing British businesses. No two businesses are the same – each has its own experience, mindset, needs, and contribution to make – therefore it is imperative that our diverse business community is represented by a collection of agile and collaborative bodies, with a local understanding of regions across the UK, that can advocate solutions to the most pressing issues facing our firms.

“LCCI welcomes the British Chambers of Commerce’s decision to launch a new Business Council which will put businesses at the heart of policy and decision making. To deliver on the UK’s ambitions for growth and prosperity, consultation between businesses and government is essential. This new body will be a powerful, transparent, and informative platform to that end.”

The CBI members will vote on Tuesday (6 June 2023) on whether to support a reform plan put forward by director-general Rain Newton-Smith, who rejoined the CBI after Tony Danker was dramatically sacked. 

Her plan involves cutting back its 300 staff and potentially changing the name of the business lobby group, and re-activating dialogue with government.

Siemens and Microsoft have led the charge of the reformers, while leavers such as Aviva, Nat West, Vodafone and John Lewis won’t have a voice.