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Sort out the mess, Chamber tells Frost.

The British Chamber of Commerce has charged one of its Midland bosses with getting a grip on the organisation amid rumours that some disgruntled local branches have been threatening to break away.

David Frost, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber, said he would use the Chamber's strength in the West Midlands as an example to the rest of the country.

His appointment as stand-in director general of the business lobby group follows the sacking of David Lennan last month.

Mr Lennan was axed amid frustration over the way the organisation's London-based headquarters was championing the regions to the Government.

In recent weeks there have been reports of local Chambers flirting with rival lobby group the CBI and possible defections. Yesterday Mr Frost denied the rumours, which at one point implicated the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce in talks with the CBI.

'I have yet to track down these mystery Chambers wanting to affiliate with the CBI,' he said.

Mr Frost claimed the Confederation of West Midlands Chambers - a unique alliance within the country - may form the model for a national re-organisation.

'We formed the confederation to give the chambers of the West Midlands greater weight and give them more regional direction,' he said. 'It is the most coherent and strongest region in the UK. What we are seeing in Birmingham is how we could strengthening the regional chamber networks.'

The West Midlands confederation is made up of local chambers - Birmingham Solihull, the Black Country, Coventry and Warwickshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire, Shropshire and Southern Staffordshire.

Mr Frost will split his time between continuing as chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber and working out the new programme for the national centre.

His job spec in the role - which is said to be for a limited period until a successor to Mr Lennan is found - calls on him to inject a new sense of vision and drive into the organisation.

The BCC is keen to market itself as the voice for small businesses on the ground and steal some of the thunder from rival group the CBI. It also competes with the Institute of Directors, another lobby group claiming to represent the small business sector. 'I have to give the organisation some real purpose and direction,' said Mr Frost. 'I will be producing a plan for the future from which the BCC should move. It is about building links between the BCC in London and the 60 chambers of commerce around the country.'

Mr Frost said he did not believe British businesses had 'three too many' lobby groups.

'Each has its own constituency,' he said.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:May 23, 2002
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