Retailers have taken their concerns direct to policy makers at a House of Commons reception

Over 100 peers and MPs have pledged their suport for independent retailers at a House of Commons reception organised by the National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN).

The meeting, entitled The Heart of Your Community is Under Threat, saw around 50 retailers put the case for smaller shops to policy makers and politicians from all parties.

NFRN National President Naresh Purohit said: “ We organised this event to give MPs a real insight into the issues that independent retailers face on a daily basis.  Making them aware of our concerns is a vital way of making sure they can help. It is essential that our members’ voices are heard loudly and clearly.”

Business crime, the sustainability of communities, self-regulation in the newspaper and magazine market and the proposed tobacco display ban were among the topics discussed.

The retailers urged MPs to consider alternatives to the proposed ban on in-store tobacco display. Purohit instead called for “a ban on the purchase, or attempted purchase, of tobacco by minors as well as the purchase of tobacco by adults for supply to minors - the proxy purchase.”

MP’s were also asked to persuade business secretary Lord Mandelson to use his powers to create  self-regulation in the newspaper and magazine industry. Mandelson is currently deciding on a recommendation from the Office of Fair Trading to abolish the National Newspapers Code of Practice, and newsagents feel effective self-regulation is necessary for them to provide a service to consumers.

Independents also asked for more help in tackling crime against small businesses. The current approach is ill-defined and lacks effective action by government and police authorities, they said.  MPs were asked to urge the Home Secretary to address the problem urgently. 

House Points
“As an MP for a constituency where independent retailers are vital to the economy, I know only too well the many challenges facing them. I am delighted to provide a platform to enable NFRN members to explain how government actions impact on local, independent shopkeepers and what needs to be done to help them.” Dr Stephen Ladyman, MP

“I fully support the retailers’ opposition to the proposed ban on the display of tobacco products. This is gesture politics at its worst - parliament should throw it out” Philip Davies MP

 “The Government has said that it wants to help small businesses during this unprecedented economic climate. We need the support of the government to create a trading environment which allows us not only to operate profitably but contribute fully to the economy.” Hitesh Pandya

“We are the lifeblood of the community. MPs must be reminded that they must use us or lose us. Many MPs spend so much of their time in London that they are not aware of all the many challenges facing us.” Alan Smith