Local councils have been urged to gather the opinions of residents and businesses as part of the consultation process for the Sustainable Communities Act.

The consultation, launched by communities secretary Hazel Blears, gives retailers a chance to influence plans for their neighbourhoods.

Blears said. "It's about men and women everywhere working with their council to set the agenda for what happens in their town or village.

"Tell us in government what we can do to help your local community thrive."

Action against proxy purchasers, a more responsive police force and a "sensible" rise in the National Minimum Wage are among issues suggested by independent retailers contacted by C-Store.

Peter Sichel, who owns a Spar store in Holmer Green, Buckinghamshire, said: "One of the biggest bugbears for communities all over the UK is proxy purchasing and I would like to see this acted upon."

He also called for planning regulations over security shutters to be axed. "Broken shop windows are distressing for retailers and lower the appeal of neighbourhoods," he said.

Midlands Spar retailer Bob Beatty called for rises in the National Minimum Wage to be kept within inflation. "If government continues to raise it beyond small stores' reach, they will not be able to refit their stores or compete with the likes of Tesco," he said.

Local authorities have until July 31, 2009 to submit proposals to the Local Government Association.

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