We have all seen that high streets up and down the country have been struggling for some time now, writes Gloria De Piero MP.
But there are beacons of hope.
I am talking about those small, independent shops that we turn to on a regular basis.
It may be a greengrocer, a butcher or a shop that specialises in particular goods or services and offers us that expertise and customer service that you just don’t get from a chain.
There are many, examples in Ashfield, and that is why I am encour-aging local small shop-keepers to enter the Best Small Shops Competition ahead of the deadline on September 9.
This competition celebrates the creativity of small shops and the central role they play in their local communites.
It is open to any small shop – that is a business selling goods or services to the public for use or consumption, rather than for resale, from a business rated premises in the UK.
The competition is free to enter and all shops who enter will also be promoted to consumers through an online indie retail directory.
Shop-keepers can nominate their businesses here.
Labour has some good policies for helping high streets become the hives of activity they once were, including giving councils the power to reopen abandoned shops that have stood empty for more than 12 months.
The idea is that local authorities can give these empty shops to start-ups, co-operative businesses and community projects, and it has been welcomed by shopworkers trade union, Usdaw.
Only Labour has declared any serious intent to address the issue, while the Tories have stood by as 29,000 retail units have stood empty for more than a year across the country
I know that in Ashfield there are innovative small shops whose owners show true entrepren-eurial spirit and make a real impact on the community – so now is the time to blow your own trumpets.
The short-listed small shops will be invited to a Parliamentary reception on November 5 where the winner will be crowned.