The week before last the Liberal Democrats held their annual conference in Brighton. Last week it’s Labour in Manchester and now the Conservatives this week in Birmingham. These events come with a little over 30 months to the next General Election. Mr Clegg has clearly endeavoured focus both his members minds and those of the Conservative Party to the realities of coalition government in his conference speeches.

Interesting, but politics is also about grass roots things, how people live and the impact of government decisions on them. Local shops like newsagents and convenience stores have an important role in many people’s lives as they are anchors for their community. Thousands of independent owners live either over their shop or close by and are effected by what’s being done on behave of their communities by local or national government.

In fact because they each probably see hundreds of members of their community every day store owners are going to be well informed about the local economy and local issues. Recently Cosham newsagent Graham Hales reported his concerns about the pending closure of the Northern Road railway bridge to The News. The story was headline news and was featured on the front page.

Graham says ‘Retailers like me are taking the pulse of our community every day, listening to our customers concerns and joys, we can be an important voice in relaying what matters to local councillors or local newspapers where correct and appropriate to do so.’

He also added ‘I am finding my local authority has started to be more active in the way they explaining changes and in the way they are doing things. An example of this is how they are changing the manner they are recycling of rubbish.’


Graham’s guide to connect the community

Speak to your customer about them and their community.
Understand the local issues and problems.
Get out of your shop and be involved
Build a relationship with your local newspaper reporter. Let them know about issues where you feel the community are being let down by a lack of local authority action or good things that are happening. (Avoid damaging any of your customers’ privacy.)
Act as a mouthpiece and as a connection to your local councillor and MP.
Your MP’s contact details are at
Their website will give details of the constituency surgeries.
Your local authority will have a website that gives details of your local councillor.