My local council, South Oxfordshire, asked me to complete a survey on Sunday trading as a local resident. The deadline is next week.

The current situation

The first question was about the current arrangements and what I thought. There were five options:

  • large shops shouldn’t open
  • six hours is already too long
  • current restrictions are about right
  • large shops should be allowed open for longer
  • no restrictions

My answer was the current restrictions are about right.

Effects of future changes

The next question was about what would happen if the council allowed large stores to open for longer. The menu included 10 options and a space for other.

The options were that it would:

  • encourage me to shop more in my local town
  • give me more flexibility
  • impact on my religious or cultural beliefs
  • have a positive impact on my business
  • have a negative impact on my business
  • increase footfall to my business
  • reduce footfall to my business
  • provide more employment opportunities open to me in the local area
  • mean that I need to work longer hours
  • and/or no impact

Under other impact I wrote: “I think it would harm village stores and village cultural events on Sundays. The current arrangements seem to work fine and as they are not broken do not need fixing.”

They next asked how I described myself. My answer was individual. The other options were business representative, charity, large business, medium business, small business, micro business, religious organisation, trade union or other.

Finally they asked where I lived. The options were: Abingdon; Botley; Didcot; Faringdon; Henley; Thame; Wallingford; Wantage and Grove; other South Oxfordshire; and other Vale of White Horse. I picked the second from last option.

Will it have an impact?

I look forward to seeing what my local councils make of this feedback. The survey seems fair. Multiple answers to the second question are bound to cause confusion. A summary of the consultation will be made available on the council’s web site. I will have to remember to look out for it.

In the covering letter, Phillip Vincent, the corporate consultation officer (yes, they have one of those), promised: “We will use this information to inform the councils’ response to government and decide whether to extend Sunday trading hours in the future, should we be granted powers to do this.”

Earlier he said: “New proposals are being made by government which would give local councils the flexibility to decide what times shops can open on Sundays. The expectation is that opening hours would be extended in most places.”

That second sentence is interesting. While the council wants to consult local people on what they think, it seems all too willing to work to the government’s “expectation”. What do you think?