It’s hard to believe that it’s four months since the NFRN launched its Public Affairs Agenda for 2014 at a parliamentary reception on the House of Commons terrace, but we haven’t let the grass grow under our feet since.

At that event we were able to brief more than 50 MPs, ministers and Lords on the many issues impacting on independent retailers as well as setting out ways in which they could assist.

[pull_quote_right] We will shortly be launching a campaign to help our members prepare for the forthcoming tobacco display ban[/pull_quote_right]

Since then much of our time has been spent raising awareness of anti-social behaviour and retail crime and the way that this affects our members, sadly in some places, on a daily basis.  We’ve written to all Police and Crime Commissioners, as well as asking whether police resources are available to tackle the crime, and I’m pleased to say that most of the responses we’ve received have been positive. All PCCs, together with Chief Constables and Home Secretary Theresa May have also been sent a copy of the Federation’s new Crime Matters newsletter which further sets out our members’ key concerns.

We’ve also been calling for a re-think on minimum alcohol pricing, asking Health Minister Jeremy Hunt to reconsider its implementation as much of the anti social behaviour experienced by our members is caused by people who are drunk.  It’s our belief the Government has not gone far enough, so we will continue to lobby for a minimum price.

Most recently, we have responded to the Government’s consultation on parking, advising that local authority parking enforcement in many areas is neither reasonable nor fair.

Going forward, we will be launching a campaign to help our members prepare for the forthcoming tobacco display ban. We are currently awaiting the outcome of the Chantler Review on plain packaging, due later this month, and will also be following the Government’s review of business rates closely, as this is of huge concern to NFRN members.

By the time you read this there will also have been a Westminster Hall debate on the lack of control that independent newsagents have in the newspaper supply chain. This debate is being sponsored by MP Priti Patel.

Not surprisingly, many NFRN members will be attending and I’ll tell you more in my next column.