Campaigners are urging MPs not to be taken in by reports that the government’s plans to devolve Sunday trading decisions to local authorities will only be applied to high streets.
Communities minister Brandon Lewis has suggested in an article in The Telegraph that there had been a ‘last minute change’ to the plans which will benefit town centres over out of town locations. However, there are in fact no clauses in the Enterprise Bill that ensure or even promote the use of these new powers for high street or town centre locations, according to the Keep Sunday Special campaign.
The House of Commons tabling office has confirmed that the government has not tabled any new amendments to the Enterprise Bill on Sunday Trading and that the deadline for new amendments has now passed.
A spokesperson from the Keep Sunday Special campaign said: “Brandon Lewis’s comments in The Telegraph are misleading. There have been no extra amendments or changes to amendments put in place ahead of the vote this week to help town centres or ‘draw a line’ around shopping districts. The government is attempting to press ahead with its original plans to give councils free reign over the Sunday trading hours in their area, whilst trying to dress the plans up as helping high streets.”
Polling from the Association of Convenience Stores from September 2015 showed that when asked about which areas they would prefer to deregulate, 52% of local authority chief executives included out of town retail parks, out of town supermarkets and large shopping centres as their first or second preference for deregulation.
Based on this research, Keep Sunday Special has repeatedly warned MPs and ministers that the government’s proposals would rapidly lead to widespread deregulation of Sunday opening hours for retail parks and out of town superstores.
The government could face defeat over the plans following reports over the weekend that over 50 Conservative MPs including two ministers will oppose the plans, in addition to widespread opposition from the rest of the House. The plans are due to be voted on during the Report Stage of the Enterprise Bill on Wednesday.