THE THAMES Gateway Partnership will be setting the standards for working with its business community when Chief Executive Mark Pragnell, formally signs the Small Business Engagement Accord prepared by Essex FSB (Federation of Small Businesses) during a special ceremony at the in Southend-on-Sea on Thursday 19 November 2009.
Essex FSB Chairman, Iain Wicks, said: “The Thames Gateway Partnership is making a commitment during Global Enterprise Week that it will be a small business friendly organisation working closely with Essex FSB and the wider business community to deliver a range of initiatives and benefits for local businesses.
“Growth Area Partnerships work across local authorities developing regional policies which govern planning, transport and other infrastructure issues.
“The Thames Gateway Partnership is the first GAP in the country to sign the Small Business Engagement Accord which will then be applied to its work which includes Basildon, Brentwood, Castle Point, Rochford, Southend-on-Sea and Thurrock Council areas.
“The Small Business Engagement Accord developed by the FSB has 14 Principles which set down standards regarding consultation on major planning issues and other activities that will impact on the business community so we are delighted that Chief Executive Mark Pragnell will formally sign the Accord Charter at this special ceremony on Thursday 19 November 2009.”
The Accord’s 14 Principles are:
1. Councils should nominate representatives to be “business engagement champions” whose role will be to ensure that the views of the local business community are considered at every stage of any consultation exercise.
2. Council “business engagement champions” should be tasked with creating effective links with all sections of the business community.
3. Councils should identify business owners that can be “engagement champions” within their local business community
4. Councils should look to “front load” consultations in order to ensure that engagement with the business community happens at the earliest stages of any consultation exercise.
5. Local authorities must use recognised business organisations when consulting with small businesses.
6. Councils must not regard consultation with just one business or business organisation as an adequate consultation.
7. Local, regional and central government should make consultation documents easier to understand and easier to respond to.
8. Consultation documents should use the correct language for the relevant audience.
9. Councils should employ a range of communication tools to promote better business engagement in consultations including for example utilising consultation documents, newsletters, information on web sites, text messages, local media, or staff directly working with businesses.
10. To increase attendance at consultation events councils should give greater notice periods in advance of any meetings.
11. Consultation with the business community should not be limited to formal consultation exercises but should be an ongoing dialogue. Councils should therefore look to hold at least one open meeting per quarter with local businesses and business organisations to encourage an open two-way exchange of information.
12. Councils should not underestimate the ability of the business community to deal with strategic issues and therefore there should be genuine consultation on an annual basis with small businesses to examine council spending plans for the following financial year.
13. Effective consultation should demonstrate to business owners the outcomes and the rationale behind the final decisions.
14. Councils should work with their Local Strategic Partnerships (LSPs) to ensure that they communicate and consult with their local small businesses and business representative organisations and take on board good practice examples from well run, existing LSPs.