libdemsAs the Liberal Democrats are meeting in Bournemouth, it is worth looking at the thoughts the party has put into its Are We Being Served? policy paper, which covers services from local shops as well as from government, supermarkets and utilities.

The party’s thinkers outline five visions: a fair marketplace; responsiveness; informed choices; consumer protection; and effective redress. Change, the party says, has hit hardest people who are old, who are in poverty or who live on benefits. People without education are being excluded from markets. The policy paper is about ensuring that most people are able to buy what they want easily, efficiently and on fair terms.

It looks at food labelling in particular, saying the party wants it to state the country of origin and not of manufacture, that it wants on system of labelling for nutrition advice and so on. And the paper also suggests that there should be a compulsory “local competition” test for all planning applications for new retail developments.

While it is unlikely that the Liberal Democrats will be able to put much of this into effect, for local retailers thinking about asking their MPs for help the paper is a good source of ideas. As it is already in politician speak, it is a useful launch pad for your own ideas. Are We Being Served? is easy to download too.