The General Election has caused a significant but temporary slowdown in the West Midlands industrial and distribution occupier market, according to an industrial property expert.

Tim Matthews, director and head of industrial and distribution property at Lambert Smith Hampton, says that occupiers have temporarily stopped or slowed down deals and enquiries for industrial and distribution premises in a display of General Election jitters.

"The date of this year's General Election must be one of the worst kept secrets in the history of politics, so it is not as if businesses were unaware of when it was coming, but as usual when a General Election is called, for no good reason, many potential occupiers put their property deals and enquiries on hold," said Mr Matthews, who is based in Lambert Smith Hampton's Birmingham office.

"This was the same in 2001 and in 1997 and in 1992, because the easiest and apparently least risky decision to take is to do nothing, as large corporates worry about potential changes to the property market which might be implemented by a new government.

"However, sometimes it is more prudent to carry on with deals.

"Just look at those companies which were about to sell properties and were caught out by the recent changes in the Budget abolishing stamp duty land tax relief in disadvantaged areas.

"It scuppered some deals and reduced the value of others."

According to Mr Matthews, the occupier slowdown may be compounded by the administration of MG Rover and the redundancies among its workers and some of its suppliers.

"The impact of MG Rover on West Midlands industry is certainly much less than it was five years ago when it caused a real crisis of confidence among businesses in the region and in the industrial property market.

" Diversification among many suppliers in the meantime has certainly helped, as has lower levels of unemployment and a stronger economy.

"With an available and skilled labour force and good demographics now being much more important in manufacturers and distributors' choice of location, it could actually encourage companies to move to the area around Longbridge to exploit this newly available workforce," he added.

"I am convinced that the slowdown precipitated by the General Election and MG Rover administration among companies prepared to sign leases is a short-term blip, as it has proved to be for each election in the past.

"Especially as it comes at a time when the market is particularly active with developers and investors acquiring freehold industrial land and property, and a general shortage of industrial property coming to the market."

Meanwhile, Lambert Smith Hampton's Birmingham office has been appointed as joint letting agent for one of Dudley's main shopping centres by landlord Ogden Waller Properties.

Lambert Smith Hampton director of retail agency Nick Round and surveyor Simon Handslip will handle lettings of retail units in the Trident Shopping Centre on a joint agency basis with Jon Stoddard of Stoddard Shields.