Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna Visits Chiswick

Meets local traders and urges shoppers to support independent retailers


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Local independent shops give Chiswick residents greater choice and contribute to the unique character of the area, the Shadow Business Secretary, Chuka Umunna MP, said on a visit to Chiswick to support ‘Retail Independent's Day 2013 ’ today (4th July).

Chuka Umunna with Mr GS Virdi and Sam White

Mr Umunna, who is a Labour MP for Streatham and Shadow Business Secretary since 2011, is leading calls for the establishment of a UK 'Small Business Saturday' to encourage consumers to shop with local independents. During his visit, local campaigners urged shoppers to sign a petition calling on Hounslow Council and other authorities to help maintain and protect the character of Chiswick as a historic High Road with a strong representation of independent shops and businesses.

Research shows that of every £1 spent locally between 50p and 70p recirculates back into the local economy. But many shopping areas, including Chiswick, are under pressure from shopping malls, big chains and internet competition. The National Campaign encourages the public to buy at least one thing from an independent shop on Independents' Day.

Mr Umunna joined local Labour Party campaigners (above) to visit several local shops in the area to hear from the owners about the challenges they faced. He commented; “It was wonderful to visit Chiswick today and to meet the great local business owners there. Small businesses are not just the lifeblood of our economy but a huge force for good in our communities as well."

The Shadow Business Secretary was introduced by local activist Sam White to a number of long-term Chiswick traders including Michael Moran of Top Hat drycleaners who has been running a family business in W4 for over forty years. Mr. Umunna commented: "I know how strongly people in Chiswick feel about the great character of the local area. Shops like Chiswick Hardware and Mortimer & Bennett delicatessen which I visited, obviously bring great richness and variety". He said the Labour Party was determined to help small businesses and he was looking forward to a momentum building up ahead of the inaugural UK Small Business Saturday on December 7th.

Local campaigner Sam White urged Chiswick residents to join the campaign by making a commitment to buy at least one item a week from independent retailers.

“Residents tell us they are worried about empty shops starting to appear and the concentration of estate agents. Chiswick High Road and roads like Turnham Green Terrace and Devonshire Road still offer an impressive range of independent shops and restaurants. We want to keep it that way. Keep the town centre vibrant", he said.

It was noted that along the full length of Chiswick High Road – from the Goldhawk Rd junction to Chiswick roundabout, at least 20 shops are currently empty.

Dan Mortimer ( Mortimer and Bennett) said the Mr Umunna was genuinely concerned about the challenges the independent shops in Chiswick face. "The character of Turnham Green Terrace is changing as there are more and more estate agents, chains and charity shops coming in paying higher rents, and ahort stay parking is expensive. This then leads to the lower footfall that we are experiencing."

Cllr Cadbury, Chair of Hounslow's Planning Committee added; "We recently refused planning permission for a shop to become an estate agent in Turnham Green Terrace, which sent a positive signal to the retailers. However the Government's recent changes to planning law mean that permission isn't needed to change a shop into another commercial use. This could be the death knell for vibrant local streets like those in Chiswick. I urged Chuka to reverse this terrible policy brought in by Eric Pickles."

She added; "Hounslow recently increased the council's budget for regeneration so we will be able to support Chiswick's retailers better to protect the character of the town."

July 4, 2013

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