We’re approaching another election season, with representatives for the Welsh Assembly and Scottish Parliament, police and crime commissioners (PCCs), the mayor of London and local governments in England all up for grabs in May.
The public then go to the polls in June to decide our future as a nation either in or out of the EU.
When I analyse the issues facing local shops, I find most of them are determined more by local councils and by parliaments in Cardiff, Edinburgh and Westminster than by Brussels.
So while the EU referendum is likely to dominate headlines, elections of local councillors across the UK, the Mayor in London, Assembly Members in Wales and MSPs in Scotland are much more likely to have an impact on your business over the next couple of years.
To give one example, the Welsh Assembly has been considering a tobacco register, which retailers would have to pay fees for. We campaigned against the plans and thankfully they’ve been dropped, but it’s a stark reminder that devolved assemblies have wide-ranging powers that can affect you and your bottom line.
Perhaps the least newsworthy poll of the set is the election of PCCs. There has been a lot of debate since the introduction of PCCs about their effectiveness, but whichever camp you’re in, the fact is PCCs have an important role to play in setting priorities for the police in their area.
When I analyse the issues facing local shops, I find most of them are determined more by local councils and by parliaments in Cardiff, Edinburgh and Westminster than by Brussels
Ahead of the elections, we’re writing to every PCC candidate asking a series of questions about their intentions in the role. We aim to get assurances that they will prioritise neighbourhood policing teams; ensure that fixed penalty notices are used appropriately; recognise the impact that business crime has on retailers and their staff; and make recommendations on how best to report crime.
Getting these assurances from candidates will be an important step toward ensuring that crimes against retailers are taken seriously at a local level.
So what can you do? The weeks leading up to the elections are a great time to get candidates into your store. Tell them about the issues facing your business, and ask them to support you. We want to know how you get on, so get in touch with us via email or Twitter to let us know whether your elected representatives are keeping their word.
Local engagement is going to be a crucial part of future decision making, so it’s essential you get involved early.