Why I wrote about my MP

The following letter was published in the East Anglian Daily Times on Friday 31st May, in response to an article in the same paper a few days previously. That article covered a meeting between the local MP, Tim Yeo, and a group of business owners from Sudbury, Hadleigh and large villages nearby, which the business owners had requested in order to discuss reforms needed to the system for determining business rates. Reports since indicate that Mr Yeo has pledged to take their concerns to Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, providing that they can demonstrate that their increase in business rates over the last 10 years is out of proportion to their rise in turnover. This doesn’t, of course, address the fundamental problem the business owners wished to address – namely that the system for determining business rates favours out-of-town outlets over town-centre premises – but it might at least be the start of a discussion.

Dear Sir

I was surprised by Tim Yeo’s response to Sudbury business owners as reported in last week’s EADT (MP blames internet shopping for decline in High Street, May 24th).  He is chair of the Select Committee on Energy and Climate Change, and has far greater understanding than many of his government colleagues of the energy issues facing us, and the need to ensure communities are sustainable. Yet in refusing to address the key issue – that it is harder to make a profit for a small town-centre business than it is for an out-of-town retail outlet which pays lower rates – he misses the opportunity to support both the social and economic structure of local communities and to promote lower-carbon ways of shopping. And why no reference to Mary Portas – his government’s advisor on high streets?

In presenting his view of the future Mr Yeo also appears not to know that many people cannot easily travel to out-of-town retail outlets, and that very many people – especially amongst the elderly – are neither keen on nor confident shopping via the internet. He may wish to retire to a market town where there is nothing to do but move from one coffee shop to another (excellent as many of them are), but I don’t imagine most of his constituents do.

yours sincerely
Emma Bishton


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