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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 November 2005, 01:50 GMT
Supermarket fightback stepped up
Closing down notice
The FSB said action must be taken to stop shop closures
More should be done to help independent retailers compete with supermarket giants and out-of-town shopping sites, business leaders have told ministers.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has submitted proposals aimed at boosting its fightback against the multiple chains.

The group claims that almost 30,000 independent stores have gone bust in the last decade.

A spokesman said that urgent action was needed from political leaders.

Andy Willox, who claimed that 30 general stores had closed every month for the past 10 years, said: "It's vital that politicians help level the playing field.

The Scottish Parliament holds many of the powers needed to help small retailers fight back
Andy Willox
Federation of Small Businesses

"The debate on the growth of the supermarkets has so far centred on the widespread demands for a new inquiry by the Competition Commission.

"The Scottish Parliament holds many of the powers needed to help small retailers fight back - such as planning, rates and business support.

"The FSB is now calling on the Scottish Parliament, Scottish Executive and local authorities to use these powers to create a better business environment for small shops."

Finance Minister Tom McCabe pledged last month that business rates were to be cut to the level of those in England in time for the next Holyrood elections.

Traders' shopping list

Better research, independent examination of big planning applications and more generous rates relief for small traders were included in the FSB's "shopping list" put before ministers.

"The Scottish Executive needs to urgently commission research so we can better assess the impact of any new large-scale retail developments on existing jobs and services," Mr Willox said.

"Independent retailers make a unique and irreplaceable contribution to the character of the high streets in our towns and cities."

He added: "They are also vital to local economies, as money spent locally is recycled into other local services."

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