Retailers and MPs Gather at Heart of the Community Conference

ACS’ annual political conference, Heart of the Community, took place in Westminster, London on 21st October. The event, chaired by journalist Daisy McAndrew, gave over 100 convenience store retailers the chance to hear how politics affects their businesses and provided a platform for them to speak directly to MPs about day-to-day issues.

Speaking at the event, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Small Shops Group, Simon Danczuk MP, explained that he has set out three main priorities for the Small Shops Group. Firstly, to ensure that small businesses were treated fairly by energy companies. Secondly, reforming business rates to make them more affordable for small businesses. And lastly, for there to be decisive action to find out why the National Planning Policy Framework to put ‘Town Centres First’ isn’t being adhered to by central and local government.

Mr Danczuk MP added: “Convenience store retailers will always be at the heart of the community and the small shops group will always have a voice at the heart of politics”.

Steve Reed MP, Shadow Home Office Minister, spoke about the effect crime had on local businesses and how this is being combated by government. Mr Reed MP said that he would like to see more being done to help support local shops against crime. He stated that 50% of offenders who were given Anti-Social Behavioural Orders (ASBO) did not breach them and the introduction of the Injunction to Prevent Nuisance and Annoyance (IPNA) would help increase this statistic.

A video from Penny Mordaunt MP, High Streets Minister, was shown at the conference. Ms Mordaunt MP spoke about the important part c-stores play in boosting the economy and bringing local communities together. She said: “It is really great to see the way convenience stores are changing and adapting, playing a vital role on the high streets and in our town centres.”

Retail Minister, Nick Boles MP, spoke optimistically about the future of convenience. He said: “The long term shift in shopping habits and changes to town and village centres will mean that the next twenty years will be nicer to convenience stores than any other part of the retail sector”.

Mr Boles MP also spoke about the difficult dilemma the business rates system posed for government. He said that despite business rates being very outdated and desperately in need of reforming, it was very problematic to try and come up with a better solution that would bring the same amount of revenue into government.

Tom Mludzinski, Head of Political Polling at ComRes, revealed how the decisions of different parliamentary parties could affect c-store retailers if they came in to power in the 2015 general election.

The event featured an MP panel with Mr Mludzinski; Lorely Burt MP for Liberal Democrats; Jessica Asato, Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Labour and Sir Gerald Howarth MP for Conservatives. The group discussed the different policies their political party would implement if they were to succeed in the general election next year. Retailers in the audience also asked questions about issues relating to their businesses.

A panel of award-winning retailers - Dean Holborn (Redhill), Julian Taylor Green (Lindford) and Paul Cheema (Coventry) – spoke of the important role their local MP plays in the successful running of their store.

ACS Heart of the Community was followed by a drinks reception at the House of Commons Terrace and was attended by a host of retailers and MPs.

This entry was posted by Chris on Fri, 24/10/2014 - 13:35