The importance of lobbying elected officials, both local and national, has been stressed to me several times recently.  At the ACS Heart of the Community event last week, chief executive James Lowman said forging relationships with your local MP, councillor or police officer can put a good community store in a position of civic leadership.

He told retailers to start at a local level and get to know their police community support officer. But he also laid down a challenge to those present to invite their MP to their store in the next 12 months, walk them round and help them understand the challenges retailers face.
Andrew Jones, MP for Harrogate, reinforced this at the launch of the NFRN 2013 Agenda last month. He told me he loves seeing retailers at his surgery, and even if he can’t help them straight away, the issues that matter most to local businesses stick in his mind.

Meanwhile, at the launch of the Palmer & Harvey Shop Health report, Witham MP Priti Patel said retailers who become an ambassador for their local area will find it easier to raise issues with the powers that be.  MPs want to hear from you, so next week we have advice from three elected officials on what they want to hear from retailers, how to prepare your case and how you can get the most out of them.

In this issue we’ve interviewed newly-elected Gwent police and crime commissioner Ian Johnston, who urges retailers to get in touch with their PCCs as new policing plans are drawn up.  And we bring you an update on the anti-Tesco campaign by the Sonchhatla family in Southampton, who have enlisted MP John Denham to support their cause.