Convenience retailers should ensure they are making their voice heard with local decision makers, the ACS announced today (October 11) at its annual Heart of the Community Conference, held in Westminster.

Since the launch of the Localism Act in 2011, Government has been committed to devolving more powers to local decision makers, with the introduction of Police and Crime Commissioners, directly elected Mayors and more recently, plans to allow local authorities to retain 100% of their business rates income all potentially having an effect on convenience stores.

At the conference, retailers heard from a range of speakers that are involved in the move toward local decision making, from High Streets Minister Andrew Percy and Shadow Small Business Minister Bill Esterson, to district and borough council leaders, as well as award winning independent retailers that have benefitted from their links in the community.

The Heart of the Community conference also saw the official launch of the ACS Local Engagement Guide, which supports convenience retailers in understanding the detail of the shift toward more local decision making, giving them the tools to identify who the most important people to engage with locally are, and learn new practical ways to engage locally based on other retailers’ experience.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “With more decisions being made at a local level, it’s essential that retailers make their voices heard to councils, local police forces and other authorities. Convenience stores are one of the services on the high street that have the most positive impact on their local area, and there are over 50,000 stores across the UK so it’s important that they are an integral part of the local decision making process. We are delighted that the Government supports our guide to retailers on being part local decision making, and will continue to engage with both central and local government to encourage them to listen to the concerns of local shops.

“We know that local shops play a vital role in their local communities, and our guide and conference are about challenging retailers to do even more, and to become the beating heart of their community.”