Reform option 'puts small shops at risk'

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The Independent Online
THOUSANDS of small shops, many in well-known tourist spots, would be forced to close on Sundays under the most restrictive of the options now facing MPs, it was claimed yesterday.

Roger Boaden, director of the Shopping Hours Reform Council, which wants to see the trading laws liberalised to allow big stores to open for six hours each Sunday, said that restrictions proposed by the Keep Sunday Special (KSS) campaign would produce a law 'even barmier' than the 1950 Shops Act.

Among the victims of the KSS proposal, he said, would be the second-hand bookshops of Hay-on-Wye, tourist complexes such as Ocean Village in Southampton, and thousands of specialist shops. About 39,000 small shops now open on Sundays could be shut down.

The council says complex restrictions and definitions in the proposal by KSS and Retailers for Shops Act Reform, the Marks and Spencer group, would prove difficult and expensive to police.

Among the 'anomalies and complications' of the proposal, the council argues, is the requirement that DIY shops must not sell non-DIY goods, and the attempt to decide which shops can open on the basis of goods they 'wholly or mainly' sell.

The council believes its own proposals to regulate trading, based on size and hours, are simpler.

Mr Boaden also said arguments about 'quality of life' ignored the rights of people who wanted to improve their quality of life by working.