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All-Party Parliamentary Group on Small Shops: ACS Rural Shop Report 2018 Launch

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All-Party Parliamentary Group on Small Shops: ACS Rural Shop Report 2018 Launch

Tuesday 30th January 2018, 16:00 - 17:30: Meeting Room A, 1 Parliament Street



Andrew Bridgen MP for North West Leicestershire
Philip Dunne MP for Ludlow
Ruth George MP for High Peak (APPG Chair)
Luke Hall MP for Thornbury & Yate
Scott Mann MP for North Cornwall
Rebecca Pow MP for Taunton Deane
Derek Thomas MP for St Ives
Lord Cameron Of Dillington Peer, Crossbench
Lord Gardiner Of Kimble Minister for Rural Affairs
Sonya Hook Agile Media
Steve Dowling Association of Convenience Stores
James Lowman Association of Convenience Stores
Edward Woodall Association of Convenience Stores
Tom Gower Citizens Advice
Emma Bailey Citizens Advice
Robin Mannering Convenience Store
Sarah Lee Countryside Alliance
James Legge Countryside Alliance
Janet Carr Craft Bakers Association
Mick Whitworth Guild of Fine Food
Joe Williams Hook Norton Village Shop
Mike Dennis Independent Retail News
Victoria Moloney Local Government Association
Adrian Roper National Federation of Retail Newsagents
Lynn Eccles National Federation of SubPostmasters
Calum Greenhow National Federation of SubPostmasters
Harriet English Plunkett Foundation
Mark Cazaly Post Office
Chris Dillon Retail Express
Tom Gockelen-Kozlowski Retail Newsagent
Graham Biggs Rural Services Network
Brian Wilson Rural Services Network
Richard Pendleton The Grocer

1. Welcome and introductions

Ruth George MP opened the meeting and welcomed delegates. She outlined the agenda, the work of the APPG on Small Shops and impact of the convenience sector in her constituency.

2. ACS Rural Shop Report 2018

James Lowman presented an overview of the key findings from the ACS Rural Shop Report 2018, including the community value of rural shops, their investments, features and economic role.

James also detailed ACS' policy recommendations for rural shops on; access to banking services, business rates, Post Offices and digital connectivity.

3. Lord Gardiner of Kimble, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity

Lord Gardiner of Kimble welcomed the design and content of the ACS Rural Shop Report and highlighted the importance of rural shops in local villages and isolated areas. He outlined how rural shops serve customers from all backgrounds and regularly provide a key route to market for local producers and support the circular economy.

The Minister responded to ACS' policy recommendations for rural shops by outlining the role of the Access to Banking Standard and the Post Office Funding Settlement for 2018 - 2021. He acknowledged the need to deliver better broadband infrastructure and mobile coverage to rural areas, highlighting the Universal Service Obligation and recent 5G Strategy. He indicated no changes were planned to Rural Rate Relief, including the threshold for petrol forecourt sites.

Lord Gardiner then thanked ACS for the opportunity to respond to the report and called for ACS to continue to work closely with Defra on rural policy.

4. Supporting the Rural Economy - Panel Session

Ruth George MP introduced the panellists; James Lowman from the Association of Convenience Stores, Brian Wilson from the Rural Services Network and Harriet English from the Plunkett Foundation.

James Lowman outlined the expanding service offer in rural shops, citing examples of innovation taking place in rural shops to meet the demands of local consumers. He highlighted rural shops as the centre of many rural communities with a strong understanding of its customers.

Brian Wilson spoke about the impact of changes to local authority funding on the provision of rural services and called for more information about how business rates retention would support rural areas. He commended the report and the role of rural shops in sustaining the Post Office network and providing local employment opportunities.

Harriet English highlighted the need for rural shops to provide a core grocery offer and wider services close to where people live. She outlined how the Plunkett Foundation supports community co-operatives as businesses which trade primarily for the benefit of their local area. She called for the Post Office to be funded appropriately to support the long-term coverage of the network and broadband coverage to be improved for rural villages.

Rebecca Pow MP then highlighted the value of rural shops in her constituency and for serving deprived communities. She also welcomed rural shops expanding their service offer into new areas such as pharmacy prescriptions. Philip Dunne MP highlighted the vital role of rural shops in supporting local suppliers and developing relationships with local customers.

5. Chairperson's Overview and Close

Ruth George MP highlighted the role of rural shops in supporting the wider rural economy and the value placed on convenience stores and Post Offices by consumers. She thanked delegates and closed meeting.


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