Examination of Witnesses (Questions 600-604
MR DIGBY JONES, MR MICHAEL ROBERTS AND MR BARNEY STRINGER
WEDNESDAY 24 APRIL 2002
600. How many extra jobs would we have got over the last ten years if we had had the planning system that is now being proposed rather than the one we have had?
(Mr Jones) I do not know.
601. You do not know. Would it have been significant?
(Mr Jones) It would in the last couple of years.
602. When companies are locating in this country how far is a good planning environment important to them?
(Mr Jones) Extremely.
603. They want some of the protections you would like to see eroded in this legislation?
(Mr Jones) They want to see certainty, they want speed. I can give you an example in the east of this country of a major £100 million investment with hundreds of jobs where America, Britain and France were up for it. America said you can start building in the morning, France said the same, and this particular planning authority in the east of England said it would be two years before we get there. That is one brick in the wall of a decision that is made in a board room overseas. It is not the only one. It is about a flexible labour market, a competitive tax environment, it is about lots of other things. We speak the global language of business but at the end of the day it is one brick in the wall. If at the end of the day we do not give that oversea's investor the certainty, speed and stability of decision, it might just tip the balance. On its own, I am agreeing with you, but it is one of the contributory factors.
604. On the question of delays, in my constituency at least three retail schemes have been delayed inordinately because other retailers have objected to them because of the competitive edge. Is that not one of the problems? Would it not be better to persuade some of your members to not object to each other so much and that might reduce the delay?
(Mr Jones) The competitive environment and market forces are going to create a delay, I accept that, but at the end of the day welcome to a democracy.
Chairman: On that note, thank you very much for your evidence.