Campaigners are urging MPs not to be taken in by reports that government plans to devolve Sunday trading decisions to local authorities will only be applied to high streets.
While Mr Lewis has suggested in an article in the Telegraph that there had been a ‘last minute change’ to the plans which will benefit town centres over out of town locations, there are in fact no clauses in the Enterprise Bill that ensure or even promote the use of these new powers for high street or town centre locations.
The House of Commons tabling office has confirmed that the Government have not tabled any new amendments to the Enterprise Bill on Sunday Trading and that the deadline for new amendments has now passed.
The Government tabled one small amendment last week that does not make any provision for restricting Sunday trading to certain areas. The amendment only clarifies that local authorities could extend Sunday trading hours to a “particular zone, district or street within the area” not that they would have to. This could include out of town supermarkets and shopping centres that would still displace trade from high streets and does not mitigate the problem of the ‘domino effect’.
A spokesperson from the Keep Sunday Special campaign said: “Brandon Lewis’s comments in the Telegraph are misleading. There have been no extra amendments or changes to amendments put in place ahead of the vote this week to help town centres or ‘draw a line’ around shopping districts. The Government is attempting to press ahead with its original plans to give councils free reign over the Sunday trading hours in their area, whilst trying to dress the plans up as helping high streets.”
Polling from the Association of Convenience Stores from September 2015 showed that when asked about which areas they would prefer to deregulate, 52% of local authority chief executives included out of town retail parks, out of town supermarkets and large shopping centres as their first or second preference for deregulation. Based on this research, Keep Sunday Special have repeatedly warned MPs and ministers that the government’s proposals would rapidly lead to widespread deregulation of Sunday opening hours for retail parks and out of town superstores.
The Government faces defeat over the plans following reports over the weekend that over 50 Conservative MPs including two ministers will oppose the plans, in addition to widespread opposition from the rest of the House. The plans are due to be voted on during the Report Stage of the Enterprise Bill on Wednesday.
Published on 7 March 2016