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Heart of the Community 2019

15th October 2019
One Birdcage Walk, Westminster, London, SW1H 9JJ
11:00am - 6:00pm
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ACS’ unmissable political event, the Heart of the Community Conference 2019, which will offer retailers key insights into how the latest political agenda could impact their businesses.   

Join the waitlist now

11am – 3.30pm

Followed by a Parliamentary reception from 4pm – 6pm


The changing food landscape: health, taste and waste


The changing nature of service provision in communities


Delivering an end to violence and abuse

For more information and to book your place, email

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Event Speakers

James Lowman, Chief Executive, ACS

James was appointed ACS Chief Executive in November 2006. He has led ACS on political and policy representation, driven a unique research programme that informs ACS’ policy work, launched an industry-leading assured advice scheme in partnership with Surrey County Council, created a new and unique events programme, and increased membership and engagement from all parts of the industry. He has been recognised for his work with outstanding achievement awards from HIM, Palmer & Harvey, YIGA, and the Retail Industry Awards. James is a member of ministerial advisory groups including the National Retail Crime Steering Group and the Retail Sector Council. He also sits on the boards of Community Alcohol Partnerships, the London Food Board and the High Streets Task Force. James joined ACS in 1997. He has a degree in Politics from the University of Essex, and an MBA from Kingston Business School.

Ranvir Singh, Political Editor, Good Morning Britain (Keynote Speaker)

Ranvir Singh is the award-winning presenter and Political Editor for Good Morning Britain. 

Kelly Tolhurst MP, Small Business Minister (Reception Speaker)

Kelly Tolhurst has been MP for Rochester and Strood since 2015. She became the Parliamentary Private Secretary to Priti Patel as Secretary of State for International Development in 2016, and in January 2018 became an Assistant Government Whip. She was promoted in July 2018 to become a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Her ministerial responsibilities include: the retail sector, small business, industrial strategy, labour markets and the Post Office.

Dame Vera Baird DBE QC, Victims’ Commissioner (VC) for England and Wales.

Dame Vera Baird QC is the Victims’ Commissioner (VC) for England and Wales.

Appointed on 24 June 2019 for a three-year term, Dame Vera is responsible for championing the interests of crime victims and witnesses and reviewing the operation of the Victims Code of Practice (the Code).

The Commissioner’s role is independent of government, although she was appointed by the Justice Secretary, in consultation with the Home Secretary and Attorney General, through an open recruitment exercise.

As Commissioner, she will regularly meet heads of Criminal Justice agencies, Chief Constables, Police and Crime Commissioners, victim organisations and voluntary groups. She will undertake reviews into victim services and report on how agencies are complying with the Code.  

Linda Williams, Retailer, Premier Broadway

James Daley, Managing Director, Fairer Finance

James is Managing Director of Fairer Finance and has been a consumer campaigner and financial journalist for more than 18 years. Before launching Fairer Finance, he worked for the consumer group, Which?, where he campaigned for a better deal for customers of banks and insurers in the wake of the financial crisis. James is frequently interviewed on national television and radio, and has regularly appeared on shows such as Watchdog, Rip-off Britain, Dispatches and SuperShoppers.  Before working at Which?, James spent 10 years as a business and finance newspaper journalist, latterly as the The Independent's personal finance editor and cycling columnist.

Mital Morar, Retailer, Ancoats General Store

Gary Stott, Director of Community Shop

For 30 years, Gary has worked across multiple sectors, finding new ways to deliver social impact. With CEO and Board level experience in the social enterprise, housing, retail and charity sectors, Gary is passionate about developing innovative solutions to society’s biggest problems. He has a particular interest in community capacity building and has developed a number of award-winning programmes aimed at building stronger individuals and confident, resourceful communities. Gary began his career as the CEO of a Homeless Charity and spent a number of years acting as advisor to the government on the resolution of homelessness and has been awarded the Prime Minister’s Big Society Award. As Director of Community Shop CiC, Gary has pioneered the model of building asset based Community Food Hubs which redistribute over 30,000,000 meals to thousands of the UK’s most deprived households whilst building resilience and confidence using food at the narrative for social impact and change.

Dr. Emmeline Taylor, Reader in Criminology, City University of London

Dr. Emmeline Taylor is a Reader in Criminology at City, University of London, and Director of Aptus Research and Consultancy Ltd. She has completed research on a broad range of topics, including commercial armed robbery, residential burglary, shoplifting, new technologies and surveillance, crime and security in education, and several evaluations of criminal justice initiatives in England and Australia. Dr Taylor has published extensively across these topics, including five books and more than 50 articles and reports. Her most recent book on armed robbery will be published by Oxford University Press in early 2020. She is a regular guest on TV and radio discussing crime related issues. 

Richard Piggin, Head of External Affairs and Campaigns, Which?

Richard joined Which? in 2013 and as Head of External Affairs and Campaigns he oversees all of Which?’s engagement with political, regulatory and corporate stakeholders to achieve positive change for consumers. He previously led the organisation’s campaigns on personal finance issues, including issuing a super-complaint to the Payment Systems Regulator on authorised push payment scams in 2016. Prior to Which?, Richard spent seven years working in the voluntary sector for a children's charity.

Anna Taylor, Executive Director, Food Foundation

Anna joined the Food Foundation as its first Executive Director at the beginning of June 2015, having previously led the policy team on nutrition at DFID and worked for a number of international organisations including Save the Children and UNICEF. She has been at the forefront of international leadership on nutrition for several years and in May 2017 Anna became a member of the London Food Board to advise the Mayor of London and the GLA on the food matters that affect Londoners.

Joe Rutlidge, Regional Security Manager, One Stop

Joe Rutlidge is employed by Tesco as the Lead Regional Security Manager for Onestop. A Convenience Retailer with 777 stores and over 12,000 colleagues, Joe is accountable for Security throughout the UK and predominantly responsible for protecting the companies’ people, property and profits. Joe has previously volunteered for the Police as a Special Constable in Lancashire and did so whilst studying Public Services, Criminal Law and Civil Law. He has previously held the role of Loss Prevention Investigator and Loss Prevention & Security Manager at E.H Booths & Co. Since 2017 he has been an elected member of the Security Institute (MSyl) and recently has been appointed the Vice Chairman for the North East Retail Crime Partnership.