Sunday, 4 May 2008

150 MPs call for a tougher test to save small shops

In Reading last year Labour pushed through a plan to knock down a hospital and build a new Tesco despite it being in an area of small local shops. A few weeks after opening 4 have closed, more will surely follow. Labour said it would encourage people to drive to the area, park at the Tesco and use the local shops but they have been proved wrong.

Now Tesco are planning to build a small shop on the same road, are they greedy or what. Theres a petition at

Save Our Small Shops

More than 150 MPs last week demanded a tougher planning test for new supermarkets in a bid to protect small shops. The Government is proposing to replace a "needs test" with one which would assess the impact of new developments on communities.

But the MPs want planning guidance to retain the existing test and to introduce a new one that assesses impact, diversity and carbon emissions. They believe this should be combined with a presumption against outoftown developments to discourage people from using their cars to go shopping.

Andrew Dismore, Labour MP for Hendon, said: "It's important that the growth of supermarkets is constrained." Ilford North Tory MP Lee Scott added: "We need to support independent traders and make sure high streets are not cloned."

In a Commons motion, the 154 MPs warned that the Competition Commission's recent recommendations do not go far enough to safeguard small shops. The commission backed town halls applying a "competition test" when deciding planning applications for new stores, as well as having a supermarket ombudsman to protect suppliers from so-called bully-boy tactics.

The MPs said the competition test was too weak as it would only kick in if a retailer gained at least 60 per cent of the local market. "The remedies will do nothing to halt the closure of independent small shops," they said.

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said: "We are introducing a new, stronger impact test that will mean councils can refuse any application that has a negative impact on the diversity of the high street, helping to protect small shops. The needs test is failing small shop owners through its crude pass-or-fail criteria."

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