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SGF Community Store Campaigner Discusses Implications of Tobacco Display Ban with Local MSP

Murdo Fraser MSP with Community Store Campaigner Pete CheemaIndependent SPAR retailer and SGF Community Store Campaigner, Pete Cheema, recently met with Murdo Fraser MSP, Deputy Leader of the Scottish Conservatives, at his Meigle store, to talk about the proposals to ban the display of tobacco in shops.

During the visit Pete was able to show Mr Fraser how impractical banning the display of tobacco would be due to the lack of storage behind the shop counter and they discussed the unintended consequences of a ban including a possible increase in transaction times, customer migration to larger stores and a greater opportunity for stock theft.

Pete Cheema said;

“Young people should not smoke and should be actively discouraged from doing so but rather than concentrating solely on sanctions directed at retailers to reduce youth smoking the Scottish Government must address the black market in tobacco and adults who provide tobacco to under –18s.”

Murdo Fraser MSP said;

“As a supporter of local shops I oppose policy changes that may put local shops in jeopardy. Despite there being no compelling evidence to indicate a display ban will reduce youth smoking, the Scottish Government is determined to proceed with a measure which will cost small shops thousands of pounds. This is reckless behaviour particularly during an economic downturn and is treating the businesses which will bear these additional costs and legislation as expendable.

“What are needed are effective deterrents against adults who give children cigarettes or allow them to be taken, education of young people and properly resourced policing of the black market.”

SGF Welcomes Government Support for Town Centres

The Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) has welcomed the passing of the Budget Bill in the Scottish Parliament, which includes measures to support town centres and cut business rates for small business.

The Budget includes a £60 million Town Centre Regeneration Fund and acceleration of the Small Business Bonus Scheme.

John Drummond, Chief Executive of SGF, said;

“Securing the vitality and viability of our town centres is critical for the future of our members’ businesses, many of which are located in high streets across Scotland.

“The town centre regeneration fund will inject desperately needed financial and practical help into town centres, whose decline has been accelerated due to the economic slowdown. It will encourage local communities to nurture a sense of pride in their town centres and assist small shops who rely on the support of their local community to trade successfully.

“The Small Business Bonus scheme will mean the difference between success and failure for some small businesses during the recession. Rates account for a higher proportion of turnover for small retailers than they do for supermarkets. Any help the Government can provide small shops is welcome.”

Town Centre Fund Essential for High Street Future

The Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) has welcomed talks between the Scottish Conservatives and the Scottish Government to establish a Town Centre Regeneration Fund, to help boost local communities and local high streets across Scotland. The Scottish Conservatives are pressing the Scottish Government for the fund to be included in the 2009-10 budget.

SGF Chief Executive, John Drummond, said;

“Sadly there has been a lack of investment in many high streets and town centres across Scotland for some time now. This lack of investment has been exacerbated by the economic slowdown. Five towns in Scotland – Kirkintilloch, Clydebank, Rutherglen, Kilmarnock and Cumbernauld, have already been predicted to turn into “ghost towns” due to the number of empty retails units which is set to increase as the economic crisis deepens.

“Local shops are at the heart of communities, especially in remote and rural areas. They support local economies and provide a vital service to some of the most isolated in society including those who do not have access to a car.

“Our members are constantly driving up standards in their stores but are finding it increasing difficult to compete with edge of town shopping centres especially when local residents are reluctant to shop in high streets which often display a lack of civic pride with litter, graffiti, vacant shops and youths hanging around in groups.

“We want to ensure town centres remain vibrant and vital. A Town Centre Regeneration Fund would enable local communities to decide how resources can best be allocated to maintain town centres and create an environment where residents want to shop and spend their free time.”

New Finance Schemes Must Ensure Banks Support Convenience Retailers

The Scottish Grocers Federation (SGF) has welcomed the new package of measures announced by Lord Mandelson, to help small and medium business survive the financial downturn. The package includes the Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme, securing up to £1.3bn of additional bank loans, to small firms with a turnover of up to £25 million.

SGF’s Chief Executive, John Drummond said;

“SGF supports any moves to make cash flow and credit more accessible, especially at a time when a number of our members, operating perfectly healthy businesses, are finding it increasingly difficult to secure credit despite having good relationships with their banks.

“This scheme should make it easier for the banks to lend and to assist investment which is vital if community convenience stores are to have a chance of success during this economic slowdown.”

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