Citizen Letter: Support your high street

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Small businesses are the heart of the local community. They generate wealth, employment and opportunity.

Following the horsemeat scandal, many people chose to use their independent, high street butchers. This return is good news, but we don’t want it to just be a fad!

At the Federation of Small Businesses we want to see people using all of the independent businesses on the high street, and celebrate the uniqueness and flavour that they bring to their communities.

Once a high street has fallen into decline the trend can be very difficult to reverse. However here are issues that local authorities can address to help reverse the tide of closing shops, and help people return to the high street.

Parking - Our research shows that seven in 10 small firms think parking is priority for the future of independent shops.

Planning - Nearly 70 per cent of members said that small businesses have to wait more than the maximum of eight weeks for local authorities to decide minor planning applications. So we need to see a speedier planning system.

Procurement - Local Authorities spend around £88 billion annually. This could be used to boost the local economy by using local, small business suppliers and keep procurement procedures simple.

We would also like consumers to think small first, when you set off to the shops or when you want to employ a service or visit a cafe? The greengrocer and the butcher, they are not always more expensive than the supermarket, and they offer a personalised service that you seldom can get in a big supermarket. Sadly, the case is that if we don’t use our independent businesses we will lose them.

Charles Smith

Regional Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses

Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire