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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