ACS welcomes positive agenda of new coalition government

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The ACS (the Association of Convenience Stores) has pledged to work with the new Government to help implement its agenda for change on the day the prime minister and deputy prime minister published the Coalition Agreement setting out their policy platform,

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “This is a positive agenda and we want to play a full part in helping the Government to deliver against it. Our role is to work closely with Ministers and officials to make sure that the rhetoric is matched by practical policies that benefit communities and the local shops that serve them.”

ACS has identified some key areas of the agreement that are particularly relevant to local shops:

On the grocery market:

Lowman said: “We have been campaigning for action to ensure the grocery market is a level playing field where retailers of all kinds can compete hard to deliver the best service and choice to consumers. The new Government commitment to the introduction of a Grocery Ombudsman and a local competition test for retail planning applications are a breakthrough in our campaigning work.

“These are exciting opportunities and ACS will make every effort to assist Government in making sure they deliver on the ambition to deliver a level playing field in our vitally important grocery industry.”

On alcohol policy:

Lowman said: “Many local shops will welcome the Government’s decision to ban below cost selling of alcohol having suffered the anti-competitive effects of aggressive supermarket pricing strategies. We still think there is work to be done to understand how this measure will actually help to prevent binge or problem drinking, but we will play a constructive role in the development of policy.

“We will be urging Government to resist any move to wholesale change in alcohol licensing. Many retailers will feel that they have only recently settled down from previous costly upheavals. We believe that objectives in tackling alcohol related disorder can be achieved by making targeted small scale changes. Throughout we will urge Government to ensure retailers are treated fairly on the basis of their own standards.”

On better regulation:

Lowman said: “Every Government talks a good game on better regulation, but now we need to see delivery. As well as good ideas like sunset clauses, reform of the inspection regime and targeting an overall reduction in red tape, the new Government has to embed in the policy-making process a commitment to evidence-based regulation and only imposing costs on businesses where there is a clear and over-whelming need to do so.”