Local retailer Clive Sheppard, who runs a forecourt in Sparkford, hosted a store visit with his local MP David Heath. The store visit was facilitated by the national Association of Convenience Stores (ACS), the campaigning voice of local shops.

At the meeting Clive highlighted the importance of having a good relationship with your MP, and thanked David Heath for helping him to combat drive-offs at his store. After a spate of drive-offs Mr Sheppard contacted his Mr Heath to see how he could help. Since then there has been a sharp reduction in the problem.

Clive Sheppard said: “Drive-offs were a real problem for us, costing a significant amount of money. However, with the help of my MP we have managed to reduce the numbers significantly through increased contact with the local police who now visit us regularly. We have also offered our local community officer the use of our shops offices as a base in the area. We urge all retailers who face a problem like ours to talk to their MP.”

David Heath MP said: “I am always pleased to visit retailers in my constituency. Independent traders are an important feature of our community and deserve the support of the Government and the neighbourhoods they serve. Drive offs are a serious crime and I am pleased that the Police are taking action to deal with this.”

ACS public affairs and communication manager Shane Brennan said: “This is an excellent example of why retailers need to keep in contact with their MPs. It can be a very useful way of solving problems such as crime, and be of real benefit to their business.”