06 March 2007, 17:35 PM
  • Supermarkets would face tough action from a retail regulator and town halls to halt the decline of independent traders in town centres, under new measures approved by the Liberal Democrats.

The new proposals are designed to create sustainable communities that are more responsive to the wishes of local people.

The propsed measures include appointing an independent retail regulator and enforcing a stronger code of practice to protect supermarkets’ suppliers; tackling abuse of market power by big retailers and providing businesses with an outlet to complain in confidence; making it easier for local authorities to judge planning applications for superstores solely on their merits rather than being influenced by the cost of possible appeals, by making firms and companies liable for their own costs in any planning appeals.

The measures were debated at the Liberal Democrat Spring Conference in Harrogate, the only town on mainland Britain that does not have a Tesco in its postcode area.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat local government spokesperson, Dan Rogerson MP, said, “Local people too often feel they have no control over the communities they live in. By setting local government free we will allow town halls greater powers to protect small traders from the overbearing economic power of supermarkets.”

He added, “Large supermarkets can afford to squeeze local competition by undercutting prices, only to raise them again when the small shops are forced to close. With more and more town centres turning into identikit clones of each other, people must be given more powers to shape their communities.”