A "bonfire of all the paperwork" has been promised by Tory MP Anne McIntosh should the Conservative Party prevail at the next election. In a debate at the Heart of the Community seminar

organised by the Association of Convenience Stores in London on Tuesday, McIntosh also said the tobacco display ban was going too far - people should be given an informed choice; and that fixed penalty notices should only apply to first-time offenders. She was one of a cross-section of MPs from all parties who answered retailer questions covering many topics including the tobacco display ban, crime, business rates, minimum wage increases, and town centre planning - many of which appear on a 10-point plan put together by the ACS as part of its Heart of the Community Campaign.

Mark Prisk MP, Conservative Shadow Small Business spokesman, said: "Complying with paperwork and form-filling takes retailers many hours every week. Therefore we will launch a package of reforms to change the machinery and culture of government.

"Labour doesn’t understand business," he stressed. "It doesn’t understand that governments do not create wealth, but people do. Business doesn’t need endless tinkering and meddling. People don’t earn money by filling in forms. The cumulative cost of legislation reduces productive time. Businesses need to be allowed to expand and grow."

He promised a package of measures to benefit small shops including making Small Business Rate Relief automatic; cutting small company corporation tax from 22p to 20p; tackling unfair regulations; introducing a more robust planning policy to put town centres first; and a reform of discrimination and employment tribunals.

Other MPs taking part included Minister of State for Local Government, the Rt Hon Rosie Winterton MP, and Liberal Democrat Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Jeremy Browne MP.

Meanwhile people are fearing for the stability and integrity of their local communities as they have seen local shops disappearing from their high streets and local areas. A poll commissioned by the ACS showed that 82% of people feel that a reduction in the number of local shops in their area has a negative impact on the local community.