This week the NFRN launched their Public Affairs Agenda for 2014 at a reception held on the terrace of the House of Commons. The event was hosted by our trades best friend in Parliament, Priti Patel MP, she is the chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Small Shops Group.
In her speech she said the independent newsagents are an important part of communities across the country. She went on to identify with the issues that NFRN is highlighting:
The Localism Act,
Age Restricted Products and Alcohol.
She added that the EU Tobacco Products Directive is an attack on honesty. She described the ban on packets of 10 cigarettes and smaller packets of tobacco as an invitation to criminality. She invited every Federation member to write to their MP to highlight the unintended consequences of this directive.
She also spoke about the issues with Business Rates that is causing big problems for many independent businesses. She ended her speech by commending the NFRN for producing the Public Affairs Agenda.
Many of the 40 plus MPs who attended the reception spent a significant time with their constituents. Edinburgh retailer, Abdul Qadar had a quality conversation with former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling. There were soon half a dozen retailers talking to Mr Darling, impressive. James Brokenshire, MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup was there to meet Dartford retailer Naresh Purohit, but he took the opportunity for a twenty minute conversation with National President, Colin Fletcher.
The key message from this event is that there significant issues that affect our sector and MPs are ready to listen. The onus though is on independent retailers to let their own MP know these issue effect them.