SMALL BUSINESS COUNCIL – DTI set to name new business chief.

The government is expected to unveil the chairman of the Small Business Council in the next few weeks. An announcement is due following last month’s decision to install Newcastle-based director of development agency Project North East, David Irwin, as small business service chief executive. As well as stepping up efforts to recruit a chairman following Irwin’s appointment, the Department of Trade and Industry has invited representatives of the SME community to apply for membership of the 20-strong Small Business Council. The favourite for the part-time chairman’s post is British Chambers of Commerce director-general Chris Humphries. The council’s role will involve acting as a buffer between the full-time officials and businesses. Irwin has signed a £200,000, two-year contract and will report to trade and industry secretary Stephen Byers and have regular contact with small-business minister Patricia Hewitt. However the announcement surprised many insiders who had expected a higher profile announcement would be made. Whizz-kid multimillionaire Reuben Singh, 23, who made a fortune from the Miss Attitude fashion chain was favourite for the job. However it is understood Singh was not prepared to take up the role on a full-time basis. The Federation of Small Businesses welcomed the appointment and said Irwin had ‘proved himself at the sharp end’.

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