Trade bodies and suppliers have begun throwing their weight behind Convenience Store’s campaign calling for compensation for local shops that lose out on trade due to nearby roadworks.
The campaign, Works Must Pay — run together with C-Store’s sister title The Publican’s Morning Advertiser — calls for a change in policy to ensure local businesses directly impacted by road or utility maintenance get a proportionate business rate refund or are adequately compensated by utilities, depending on the nature of the works.
Ken Parsons, chief executive of the Rural Shops Alliance, said: “We have seen many cases where roadworks extending over several weeks have driven even strong businesses to the brink of closure through absolutely no fault of their own.
“The current situation is crazy, with different rules depending on who is responsible for drilling the tarmac - the impact on the shops is the same whoever it is. In many cases, no compensation is payable, or if it is, it can take months of battling to get even desultory help to compensate for lost business.
“It really is time that small stores were given a clear legal right to compensation. We strongly support the campaign by Convenience Store to make this happen.”
National Federation of Retail Newsagents chief executive Paul Baxter said: “Independent retailers’ businesses can be devastated by roadworks. Footfall drops because people make every effort to avoid the area, and it can be incredibly difficult to take delivery of stock if nearby roads are closed or dug up.
“For those reasons the NFRN is delighted to support Convenience Store’s Works Must Pay campaign. We wholeheartedly believe the shopkeepers should be fully compensated when their businesses are disrupted.”
Spar distributor Appleby Westward is also backing the campaign. “Lengthy roadworks can have a debilitating effect on the businesses of convenience store retailers, especially in rural areas like ours where they are the often the very lifeblood of the community, and hard-pressed retailers should certainly have recourse to compensation where they can prove their trade has been damage,” said managing director Mike Boardman.
Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman said: “Local authorities have a responsibility to support these businesses [affected by roadworks], and as well as taking their existing duties to inform and help affected businesses seriously, councils should use discretionary rate relief powers to make sure businesses don’t lose out.”
A number of pub bodies are also backing the campaign, including the British Institute of Innkeeping, the Association for Licensed Multiple Retailers and the British Beer and Pub Association.