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News - 11 February 2005
|George St Hove|
Liberal Democrats fight for the small shopkeeper
Liberal Democrat MPs have recognised that small shopkeepers are a key part of the economy and represent a significant proportion of the voting public. The Lib Dem party has tabled a Bill in the House of Commons that seeks to protect small shops from dominance by giant superstores.
Some believe that small traders in Brighton & Hove are under threat from new Tesco and Sainsburys developments. These superstores sell an ever-expanding range of merchandise at the lowest possible prices making it increasingly difficult for small traders to protect their niches and they have no chance of competing on price.
In the UK about 50 small shops go out of business every week. Lib Dem finance spokesperson Brian Cotter claims that since 1997 some 20,000 small shops have gone to the wall.
If the Bill is passed councils will be required to work with communities and consult on town centre development. They would also be required to provide rate relief for smaller outlets perhaps linking rates to revenue rather than (or as well as) square-footage.
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