Business Link – good or bad?

As Business Link nears the end of its existence, it was interesting to read an article in the Sunday Times on 2nd October discussing how well it worked.
What initially caught my attention was that the featured success story was one of our clients – Nick Wall who founded Tails Cocktails and through Business Link was able to secure our marketing expertise and knowledge of the drinks industry.
So is it a good idea to get rid of Business Link? On the negative side, it was often highly bureaucratic (anyone who completed a tender document or the select supply application will know what I mean), it definitely made some errors, and not all the advisors were great.
But as evidenced by the Tails example, when it got it right, Business Link had the capacity to make a big difference and help an aspiring entrepreneur make a start. In the current environment of heavily restricted lending by the banks (if any at all), how many would-be business owners would relish the opportunity for free advice and some grant funding?
I’m left feeling that we might just have thrown out the baby with the bathwater – surely after nearly 20 years, there is enough experience, both internal and external to make improvements to the offering rather than simply close it down? If the suggestion in the newspaper article turns out to be correct and government ends up replacing it in three or four years, will we really get something better, and how long will it take to recover the costs of closing Business Link (think of all the redundancies, office furniture …)?
What do you think?
Regards, Chris.