Well, what a chilly start to the year which hadn’t looked all that welcoming, what with the battle over Business Rates, potential fuel problems, the economy lurching from one disaster to another, and a general election on the horizon.

The last thing the industry needed was an excuse for motorists and suppliers NOT to come out on the road because of bad weather. Many retailers have been very determined in making the best of the snowy conditions even collecting their own supplies, like Guy Warner (see page 5), who turned his car into a milk float. As panic-buying stripped supermarkets of essentials, this was a great opportunity for some neighbourhood forecourts to show the local community what they’re made of.

However, onto those other ’dark clouds’. Brian Madderson, the new chairman of the RMIP (see pages 4 and 19), has been able to lever apart a small opening of hope before the door slams shut on the new Business Rates scheme. But he needs everyone’s support he needs to be able to demonstrate to the relevant government officials that enough retailers will be seriously threatened by the Business Rates scheme.

Following a meeting with the Valuations Office Agency on December 7, he said the impression is that the powers that be can be moved a little. But he claims they are hiding behind the rental evidence they have, which he believes is just from high-volume sites and supermarkets, and therefore not representative of the majority of forecourts certainly not the kind of figures that would be typical of a rural site. What is required is more examples of rental agreements, which will be dealt with confidentially. Please pass this information on to MUA Property Services which handles the negotations with the VOA on behalf of various associations. The number is 01992 760093. And write to your MP the more retailers who make their feelings heard, the more chance of MPs taking up the cause. Oh, and Happy New Year!