Making town high streets more vibrant and sustainable is something that I think we can all agree is extremely important in this age of internet shopping, writes Gloria De Piero MP.
That is why I was dismayed to hear the results of a crime report just published by the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS).
The report found that retail crime has a huge economic impact, costing £246 million a year.
Local shops in Ashfield alone lost £155,290 to shop thieves in the last year.
Worryingly, the report also states that there were 10,000 incidents of violence against people working in local shops, with 41 per cent of these resulting in the injury of staff.
These figures tally with the results from a survey carried out by the shop workers’ union USDAW, which also showed large increases in physical and verbal assaults on shop workers in the last year.
I know from speaking to some shop owners in Kirkby that shoplifting is a massive problem in this area and it came to a head at the end of last year.
Repeat offenders who are known to the staff and to police would visit these shops, intimidate staff and were costing businesses thousands of pounds a month.
In this case, police did increase town centre patrols which helped the problem, but finding a definitive solution to shoplifting is never going to be cheap or easy, especially with limited police and council resources.
Another ingredient that is vital to the rejuvenation of towns is the success of the pub trade.
That is why I have backed Britain’s Beer Alliance’s Long Live the Local campaign.
The last Labour Government introduced a tax break so smaller breweries paid 50 per cent less beer duty than the large ones.
But what all pubs now need is support from the Government in terms of a radical overhaul of business rates, a review of the duty paid on alcohol and a reform of the Pubs Code.
More than 1,000 jobs in Ashfield are connected to the pub trade and they need to be safeguarded now and for the future.