The Government intends to go ahead with its Sunday trading plans, which will see the power to extend opening hours being devolved to local authorities.

The plans, which form part of the Enterprise Bill, will allow councils to introduce zones where the current regulations are relaxed, allowing them to stay open longer.

The Government said its plans will help benefit high streets and city centres, but trade organisations and several politicians have condemned the decision.

“Changing Sunday trading regulations will not help the high street, it would actually damage small high street stores as trade would get diverted to large out-of-town supermarkets,” said ACS chief executive James Lowman.

We cannot allow this unpopular, unnecessary and damaging legislation to be forced through parliament

“We cannot allow this unpopular, unnecessary and damaging legislation to be forced through parliament when there is such strong opposition from within all parties at Westminster, and from a broad coalition of shopworkers, small shops, family groups and churches.”

NFRN national president Ralph Patel added: “The public are generally not in favour and any moves to devolve and re-regulate opening hours to local councils will be deeply harmful to independent retailers in England and Wales. We will be urging members to lobby their MPs to ensure that these plans are opposed.”

During the second reading debate of the Enterprise Bill last week, shadow business minister Kevin Brennan MP said that adding the proposals to the Bill at a late date was a “gross abuse of power”, while Toby Perkins MP said it was “entirely the wrong way to legislate”.