Ask any politician whether they support their local shop and I guarantee they will say yes. However, when making decisions about issues that will have a negative impact on their local shop, they sometimes seem struck with amnesia.

This can be one of the most frustrating things in dealing with politicians. However, it is important to understand this and work together to ensure that they don’t forget the importance of their local store.

ACS is constantly updating MPs about the concerns of local retailers. However, when it comes to your MP, our voice is not as powerful as yours. This is why we are hosting a ‘Heart of the Community’ seminar, which will be held at London’s Imperial War Museum on November 12. The event will be addressed by Ministers and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg and is free to all Convenience Store readers. It will also be a chance for retailers to speak up on issues that concern you. However, a one-off event is only a starting point.

The most obvious way to contact an MP is to write to them. It is even more powerful to speak to your MP in person, either through one of the MP’s weekly constituency surgeries, or by inviting them to visit you at your store.

The reasons for doing this are not simply about political influence. C-stores are community businesses and having a reciprocal relationship with community leaders – MPs, local councillors, police and residents’ groups – is a part of this.

ACS is seeking to help retailers build these relationships through co-ordination under the Local Shop Campaigner (LSC) initiative. It seeks to achieve two things: first, to co-ordinate a grass roots campaign in support of the political work we are doing for the sector; and second, to help retailers gain access to the people that can make a difference. An LSC makes a commitment to support four ACS campaigns and this can be as simple as sending a letter.

For more information about becoming a LSC or attending the Heart of the Community seminar, phone Helen Davies on 01252 515001, or email helen.davies@acs.org.uk.

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