Independent retailers need to ramp up communication with their local MPs ahead of the General Election next year if they want a better deal for local shops.

This was the advice from James Lowman, chief executive of the ACS, at the organisation’s Heart of the Community event last month.

He said the next Election would be vital as Labour and the Conservatives have very different views on matters affecting convenience stores.

Several MPs at the event pledged to offer their support to the convenience sector on a range of issues from retail crime to business rates.

Labour shadow home affairs minister Steve Reed MP criticised the Government for scaling back the number of police officers on the streets.

“We must keep up the fight against crime at a time when too many businesses are still suffering,” he said.

Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Small Shops Group Simon Danczuk set out three priorities for the group: to protect retailers from being exploited by energy brokers; to focus on growing town centres; and to fight for wholesale reform of business rates.

“When business rate reform comes, I want to make sure small retailers get the best possible deal,” he added.

Nick Boles, Conservative minister of state for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills agreed that business rates were a model of taxation designed for another era. But he warned: “Until those proposing change have an alternative that makes as much money, it will be unlikely to convince any chancellor.”