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Last Updated: Monday, 1 January 2007, 09:59 GMT
'Back local food' councils urged
Fruit stall
Local businesses promote local goods, Mr Vaughan believes
Councils in Wales are being urged to do more to help shoppers buy local products and cut down on food miles in an attempt to combat global warming.

Farmers Union of Wales president Gareth Vaughan is using his New Year message to highlight what he sees as the difficulties facing smaller businesses.

He says councils "bend over backwards" to help large supermarkets" while small shops selling local produce suffered.

The Welsh Local Government Association said it tried to balance the two.

Mr Vaughan said: "I feel that councils are too ready to bend over backwards to help large supermarkets set up shop on the edge of their main towns with big car parks and wide roadways to accommodate huge lorries delivering goods from all parts of the world.

"Meanwhile, our town centre streets are covered in double yellow lines, bollards line pavements and parking spaces are virtually non-existent.

Gareth Vaughan
They sell the best meat, vegetables and dairy products available
Gareth Vaughan

"Council-employed traffic wardens lie in wait for any motorist wishing to briefly pop into a corner shop."

He said corner shops were often run by "traditional, local traders" who were doing their best to support producers and supply the best local produce while facing rising business rates and rents.

Mr Vaughan added: "They sell the best meat, vegetables and dairy products available. Most of it is fully traceable from local suppliers and produced to the highest animal welfare standards.

"But councils seem more determined to help the supermarket chains set up retail parks and stores selling cheap, but often inferior, food flown or shipped across many thousands of miles."

He suggested increasing rates for supermarkets and compensating local traders to prevent them being "forced out of business".

School meals

Steve Thomas, chief executive of the Welsh Local Government Association, said: "Local authorities are very keen to support local businesses in their local communities."

He cited support for using local produce in school meals in Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire as an example of successful measures councils in Wales had taken to back suppliers.

However, he added: "That said, we have got to use some of the larger businesses. They tend to have the capacity to supply local communities that smaller businesses don't have.

"When there are out-of-town shopping developments, we have to look at them as planning authorities.

"Authorities will do all they can to support local businesses but it's got to be remembered that part of the local communities are the larger businesses that come into them."

"We are always seeking a balance between the two."




SEE ALSO
Farm union's anniversary warning
20 Jul 05 |  Mid Wales
12,000-mile scampi trip condemned
15 Nov 06 |  South of Scotland
Award for town's quality of life
02 Oct 06 |  North East Wales

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