A decision by the Government to scrap city regions before they have been given a chance to succeed would be "nonsensical", Birmingham Chamber of Commerce warned last night.
Chamber policy executive Charlotte Ritchie was commenting on the sceptical approach taken to city regions by Treasury Ministers Ed Balls and John Healey, who are both allies of Chancellor Gordon Brown.
Their comments have been taken at Westminster to mean that a Gordon Brown-led government would scrap plans to give local authorities greater decision-making powers, possibly under the leadership of elected mayors.
Mr Balls and Mr Healey suggested city regions, of the type envisaged for Birmingham and the West Midlands, could lead to wrangling between the local authorities involved as well as reduction in the influence of regional development agencies such as Advantage West Midlands.
Ms Ritchie said: "Clearly the concept of city regions is relatively new and we don't know yet whether they can deliver in terms of enhanced economic development, transport or skills.
"However, we would urge the Chancellor not to completely renounce Government policy on city regions until they have been given a chance to succeed.
"A lot of hard work has gone into developing the Birmingham, Black Country and Coventry City region and it can be seen as a truly collaborative exercise with all partners included and, crucially, for the first time a seat at the decision-making table for the business community."
Ms Ritchie added that local freedoms and flexibility for councils were key to attracting investment to the city region.
She added: "The issue is not about weakening the structures that are already in place. Instead, it is about working as a city region to enhance and accelerate economic development and providing a coherent and strategic approach to decisions on key issues like transport.
"If Government genuinely wants to devolve powers from Whitehall then it must allow city regions the opportunity to succeed, or fail for that matter.
"Changing policy incessantly will not improve local accountability and decision-making, or enable our cities and city regions to truly flourish.
"Clearly a London-style elected mayor is not right for everyone and we would be cautious of any 'one size fits all' solution."