The big four multiple grocers have been excluded from membership of the Association of Convenience Stores following a vote at an extraordinary general meeting held during its Blackpool conference last month.

At the meeting, members voted for a special resolution proposing an amendment to the ACS constitution regarding membership criteria. The decision prohibits the entry into the ACS membership of any group owned by one of the present major four grocers. ACS chairman Angus Oughtred said: “Recent developments have made it necessary for ACS to redefine and clarify those it feels it should represent. This motion states our future position on membership clearly, and I am pleased that it has received such support from the members represented at the EGM.”

ACS chief executive David Rae said: “ACS is a democratic organisation. Decisions are taken by the members for the members. There is an overwelming view among members – both at the EGM and among others I have discussed the matter with – in favour of this change, and it is a move I fully support.

Colin Graves, chairman of Costcutter Supermarkets, said: “ACS can now concentrate on continuing its valuable work representing those businesses which are genuinely focused on neighbourhood and convenience retailing.”

Hazel Blears MP, minister of state for crime reduction, set out her vision for retail engagement in local crime and disorder partnerships in a speech to the ACS conference, which was themed ‘Convenience – Every Second Counts’. She said convenience stores had a key role at the heart of communities and she was keen to work with them to reduce crime.

“They create jobs, spur regeneration and act as a lifeline for those who rely on them,” she said.