Throughout the party conference season, NFRN officials and staff were out in force to ensure that as many MPs as possible are fully aware of the issues that independent news and convenience retailers face.

As the champion of the independent retailers sector, it is vital that we represent the interests of our members to elected representatives so that every one of them has a real understanding of the challenges small shopkeepers address on a daily basis.

So in conversations we have held at the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat conferences in Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow – as well as those that will take place at the Scottish National Party conference in Perth next month – we will leave politicians in no doubt of the impact that business rates, red tape, poor wholesaler service, rising carriage charges, illicit tobacco and alcohol, and planning laws that favour the supermarkets have.  

We’ve clearly outlined what needs to be done to protect independent retailers and to ensure this retail sector continues to exist.

We have also taken a central role in a fringe event that lifts the lid on retail crime and the devastating effect it has on independent store owners.  

Speaking at the  “Safe Shopkeeping: Combating Violence and Abuse of Independent Retailers” meeting, we have renewed calls for the Government and police to prioritise the issue of retail crime, improve response times and ensure that sentences are given out that fit the crime.

By attending the party conferences we’ve made great contacts and we look forward to renewing acquaintances at our own parliamentary reception on the House of Commons terrace on November 18.

In the meantime I would urge you all to do your bit to secure a future for independent retailers. 

With the general election looming, why not arrange a meeting with your MP to discuss the issues that you want to see addressed?