MP fights to protect local businesses

A TORY policy group chaired by Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer is calling for action to protect local shops and farmers produce.The group's battle cry is being made in a bid to combat the identikit high street.

A TORY policy group chaired by Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer is calling for action to protect local shops and farmers produce.

The group's battle cry is being made in a bid to combat the identikit high street.

A quality of life study being produced by former Cabinet Minister Mr Gummer and environmentalist Zak Goldsmith will back measures to maintain "a diverse retail sector and consumer choice" if David Cameron becomes prime minister.

Although the proposals, to be published in a major document on Thursday, are only advisory insiders expect them to become party policy.

They aim to protect shops and farmers and brands such as Yorkshire pudding, Lancashire cheese and Devon cream from the march of mass production and supermarkets.

It quotes from a report in 2006 from the All Party Parliamentary Small Shops Group which says: "Erosion of small shops is viewed as the erosion of the 'social glue' that binds communities together."

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The review recommends: "Local food economies should be able to accommodate successfully a variety of different retail outlets serving different purposes and providing a range of shopping opportunities for the consumer - including street markets, local shops, supermarkets, farmers markets.

"Because of the current and growing dominance of the multiple retailers - the four largest supermarkets now control 75 per cent of the retail market - retail provision in many towns has lost its diversity and small independent shops are closing at a rate of 2,000 a year.

"Of course, it would be foolish to try to turn the clock back. Supermarkets have been successful because they fulfil a real need.

"People are voting with their feet and the retail revolution has done much to improve quality and choice, particularly in urban areas.

"Where diversity exists, efforts must be made to maintain it, and where it does not we should seek the opportunities to recreate it. Above all, we should be careful to maintain alternative routes to market."

N Do local shops and farmers need protecting? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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