WEST Midlands MEP Malcolm Harbour is putting himself forward as an agony uncle for small business which find themselves fuming over red tape.

Conservative Mr Harbour is calling on entrepreneurs and leaders of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across the region to contact him with their chief concerns over burdensome rules and regulations, particularly those emanating from Brussels.

The move follows an initiative by the European Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship, Antonio Tajani, who says he wants to discover the 10 most-restrictive pieces of legislation for SMEs on the EU's statute books.

Mr Harbour is asking business to contact him so he can be aware of their concerns before forwarding the information to the commission in Brussels.

He said: "I want business people to really get things off their chest and tell me all their biggest bug-bears. Instead of just grumbling to themselves about the problems red tape cause them, they should tell me all about it and I will tell Brussels.

"At the same time I can, hopefully, build up an invaluable picture of the mood of business in the region and the challenges people face."

As 20 years of the Single Market is celebrated Mr Harbour, who also chairs the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee, added: “We have made good steps forward in many areas, including the recognition of professional qualifications, classification of goods and custom tariffs, standardisation of product safety standards and improvements in public procurement.

“However, we know that further improvements can still be made but we want to know from those at the sharp end what their priorities are.”

Mr Harbour can be contacted by email at malcolm.harbour@europarl.europa.eu