It's Change of Pace That Matters; AGENDA

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Byline: GEOFF PERC

On Saturday the speculation finally ended with Gordon Brown deciding not to go to the polls. There's been plenty of talk from both sides in recent weeks, but for all the hot air we've learned something important about where the West Midlands sits on each agenda.

The Tories have ground to gain on crime, inner city communities and regeneration. Labour has work to do in convincing business that tax, pensions, and the environment are high on the agenda.

The creation of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform reassured us that perhaps there would be a clear business voice in Cabinet. Is this just more spin? Cynics call this rebranding in a crisis. Government needs to realise, business isn't interested in a change of face. It's the change of pace that matters.

The business community needs to take responsibility for the future growth and development of UK PLC with persistent lobbying. Otherwise we risk Big Tent government neutralising opposition and becoming all controlling.

As Chancellor, Alistair Darling talked encouragingly of simplifying tax and business support, and stressed the need to reform planning and invest in infrastructure.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives have talked of simpler, lower business taxation, skills, public services reform, infrastructure and regulation - all of which struck a chord.

So both sides know where it's at - tax and regulatory simplification. Especially when it comes to SMEs - which employ the largest percentage of the workforce. There's no question that regulatory and tax life should be as simple as possible for the seed corn of the economy's engine. …