Chief Executive's Blog: The Importance of Getting Local MPs into Your Store

Today I watched the last Prime Minister’s Questions of this Parliament, another milestone to the General Election on 7 May.  There has been a campaign running for months if not years now, but the impending poll brings into focus the opportunities to engage in the campaign as a local business.

We have our ACS election centre to try to help retailers to take part in the campaign and to make sure their voice is heard by candidates.  Some retailers are inviting candidates to their stores, some are writing to ask about their positions on key issues for our sector, and some are even holding hustings of local candidates so that these views can be challenged and debated.  There are any number of ways you can get involved, so let us know if we can help you to do this.

One of the features of our contact with MPs and candidates is that so far, every single campaign office that we have contacted has been biting our arm off to get a store visit in place.  It is a great story for a candidate to plug locally – going into a shop, talking about jobs, high streets, investment and the community as demonstrated in a fantastic short film with Penny Mordaunt, MP for Portsmouth North.  There can hardly be a better mix of feelgood topics for anyone trying to demonstrate their commitment to the local area, and spending a few moments in store also allows you to raise some of the challenges you face, perhaps issues like business rates or crime.  Be specific and talk about the business and the community you know.

So what are the barriers to getting your MP in store?  For some it may be time, but I suspect that for many retailers there is a cynicism about the value of these visits.  Does the MP or candidate really listen, and can you influence what the Government does to your business anyway?  From my experience (and this is one of the few things I can claim to be an expert on) you have far more influence than you might think.

Nationally, if we work together and make our voice heard, we can influence policy and we have demonstrated this in the past.  But so much of the policy and practice that affects your business is determined not by the Cabinet or Parliament, but by the local council and the officers who serve them, as well as other local institutions.  Planning, policing, rate relief and alcohol licensing are increasingly local decisions.  Having your MP on side is crucially important, and should provide a platform for building contacts among councillors and local authority officers too.

Let us know how we can help you to help us all have a louder and more effective voice.

This entry was posted by Victoria on Thu, 26/03/2015 - 11:43