C-store owners will have a chance to get up close and personal with MPs and other politicians at this year's Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) Heart of the Community Seminar.

Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles will answer retailers' written questions on issues that affect their businesses in a special "Ask Eric" session of the seminar on November 2.

Other guests include Lord Mawson, OBE, who will be discussing the importance of engaging with local communities, and Philip Blond of think-tank Respublica, who will be giving an update on the ACS project to discover how government can create a more competitive retail market.

Retailers will also get the chance to grill a panel of local councillors.

As well as the speakers, there will be interactive workshops on issues affecting c-store owners, such as engaging local authorities, working with the media, understanding the planning system and responsible alcohol retailing.

ACS head of public affairs Shane Brennan encouraged retailers to get involved with the event. "Heart of the Community gives retailers the chance to have their say directly to the leaders making decisions that affect them," he said. "We're asking retailers to show the politicians how strong, diverse and relevant our industry is."

The Seminar will take place at the Imperial War Museum in London and is free to all ACS members and C-Store readers.

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