There is real momentum gathering over the issue of the business rates revaluation, and credit must go to the new man giving the ’formerly-known-as-PRA’ organisation a good kick in the rear. Brian Madderson is breathing life into the argument that the revaluation calculations are based on unrepresentative data ie from high-volume oil company-owned sites and supermarkets, not the average independent retailing operation, which sells less than 2.5mlpa, and turns over £8,000 a week in a 59sq m shop (according to data from Experian Catalist). Hardly comparable to the figures achieved by the supermarkets.He is spreading the word through lobbying MPs, the media and meetings with staff at the Valuation Office Agency.

MP Philip Dunne has also given huge impetus to the campaign by launching an Early Day Motion (see News Extra on page 10) expressing grave concern at the effect the 2010 business rates are likely to have on the forecourt sector, where rises in excess of an astounding 250% have been reported by some filling station operators.

But like a giant tanker, it takes a lot to make the existing processes slow down, stop and then take a different direction. And that is where you, the retailer comes in. From our online poll it looks like the majority of retailers have taken some action to complain to their local MP about the situation. All I can say is, keep it up, the job is a long way from being done yet. There definitely is strength in numbers, and just think what a relief it will be if a successful outcome is achieved particularly for those teetering on the edge of viability.

Besides, there are other dark clouds on the horizon. The problems concerning biofuels and contamination issues are beginning to undermine relationships between retailers and suppliers. People are getting angry, the costs of keeping tanks and pipes clean are mounting. This is an industry issue, that is not yet being tackled openly by the industry. Over to you Brian!