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Contact your MP to drive bira's business rates reform plan
By bira
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Contact your MP to drive rates reform plan

AS MEMBERS OF Parliament start to acknowledge the problem of shop closures nationwide, bira members are being urged to contact their own MPs to highlight the pressures independent retail businesses are under, especially from business rates.

At the Houses of Parliament on 11 September bira launched its proposal for an adjustment to rates relief, which was widely welcomed by legislators for its timeliness and relevance (see pages 8-9 of the bira member magazine). To increase the momentum of the argument and to back the widespread calls for a major overhaul of the business rates system, the 573 MPs representing English and Welsh constituencies covered by business rates ought to be fully informed of the realities of modern retailing, bira believes.

“Across the country, increasing numbers of MPs are seeing with their own eyes what is happening to the traditional high streets in their constituencies. They know the number of shop closures may well become an issue at the next election, so they will listen to what bira members have to say,” said bira’s CEO Andrew Goodacre. “I’d encourage members to engage with their parliamentary representatives so they in turn can carry the message to the powers that be. This is definitely a topic of increasing national importance.”

Andrew Jones, the Conservative MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough, who is a Tory Party vice-chairman responsible for business engagement, attended the launch. He commented: “In the UK we are undergoing a big societal change and we are experiencing a confluence of challenges all at the same time. MPs will be sympathetic (to bira’s arguments) because (the closures) are happening everywhere. Shops have an economic and a social function. If a town centre is hollowed out, it starts to look like a ghost town.”

Cant your MP to drive bira's business rates reform plan

Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, Tory MP for The Cotswolds, hosted bira’s event. He stressed the value of small shops to local communities

Surinder Josan, bira president, remarked: “The launch of our rates proposal was received very positively because what we are saying rings a bell with the MPs and the Lords who attended. Our host, Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, represents The Cotswolds and he relates to the importance of shops in villages there. Tory peer Lord Naseby mentioned the severe effect the closure of Marks & Spencer in Northampton was going to have on the town. We must keep up the momentum of our campaign.”

Immediate past president Vin Vara added: “With our proposal for reforming rates relief we have thrown a stone in a big pond and it’s making ripples. The MPs are looking and listening to us. Our members across the country should get involved.”

You can contact your MP when you, or people living in your area, are affected by decisions made by the UK Parliament or by the Government. Find your MP and learn more about MPs, including details of their parliamentary career and contact information at www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/

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