TORY plans to cut red tape affecting businesses have won a cautious welcome in south Essex.

The proposals came from a Conservative Party policy review group chaired by former cabinet member and right-winger John Redwood.

The policy group report, due to be published this week is expected to contain proposals to dump working time regulations, data protection laws and many rules which affect the financial services industry. Murray Foster, chairman of Southend Business and Tourism Partnership is also a board member of Essex Chambers of Commerce.

He said: "I think there is no doubt business is over-regulated and that there should be some cuts.

"The amount of red tape is a significant cost, particularly to small and medium- sized businesses."

Mr Foster said he was not suggesting getting rid of all regulations but finding a happy medium.

David Garston, Southend Council cabinet member in charge of culture, said: "A cut in red tape would certainly be welcome as far as the council is concerned.

"Too much of the time, members and officers are having to deal with reports, surveys and plans which are achieving nothing."