The general election is approaching, and all three parties have released their manifestos. It’s important to know what you are looking for in the next government. My priorities include:

Crime – we were burgled last year and with 5 shop/Post Office murders since January last year as well as dozens of violent assaults against shop workers, I am interested to know how the candidates view the balance of justice and how they would protect our sector.

Regulation – do you keep track of all the changes? Do you have the resource to understand and implement it all? Do you need more help in keeping legal?

Tobacco display ban – the Conservative manifesto promises that if they form a Government they will bring an end to MPs from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland voting on legislation that will only affect England. Will you be asking your Conservative candidate to demand that the display ban is revisited by Parliament because non-English MPs helped vote it through?

Business rates – essential community services such as Post Offices and Newsagents receive special business rates. If you don’t trade in a rural village ask your candidates why your community-based shop is treated differently to your country colleagues.

Micro Businesses have different needs – explain to your candidates why the next Government needs to recognise that businesses like yours face a different set of problems to small and medium-sized enterprises (SME’s).

Sustainable Communities Act – Ask your candidates if they will help bring about change in your community by facilitating the use of this act.

I am sure that you have other issues that are important to you and your business that you want to talk to your candidates about. I decided after the 2005 election that I need to get in touch with our MP much more often. This year he already knows the issues that worry me most like crime, regulation, tobacco and the Post Office. When he is on the election trail in the next three weeks I know he will come and visit us and I know he will be happy to talk about my issues.

I hope you have the same success with your candidates.