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Retailers hope for change after Labour dominates local elections

Posted: 28 May 2024

By Greg Pitcher

Keir Starmer Labour Party Leader House of Commons

Fine food retailers have urged newly elected regional and local politicians to recognise the importance of small businesses and healthy supply chains.

Labour candidates won 10 of England’s 11 mayoral roles and have more councillors than the other main parties combined, after a hugely successful polling day in May. 

Ahead of a looming general election, industry figures called for politicians to back independent shops to boost the economy and food security.

Sangita Tryner, owner of Nottingham-based Delilah Fine Foods, said she had noticed an apathy in the city ahead of the vote that saw Labour’s Claire Ward became the first mayor of the East Midlands.

“People are losing faith in politics, they don’t see anyone who does what they say they will,” she said. “But if nothing else this is a change. We hope something gets shaken up.”

Ward promised in her manifesto to “revitalise high streets and towns through a community development fund” and to buying products and services within the region “where possible”.

Tryner urged the mayor to work with the city’s Business Improvement District on her plans.

“If she doesn’t act in isolation it could come to something, and any extra resource to shout about the region is good.”

Emma Mosey, owner of Yolk Farm near Minskip, said the election of York and North Yorkshire’s first mayor – Labour’s David Skaith – was cause for optimsim.

 “If you look at farmers markets and food security they happen on a local or regional level.”

Skaith owns a clothes shop in the Swinegate district of York and Mosey backed him to champion small business.

She called for the Labour party to act in the best interest of electorate wellbeing at national, regional and local level.

“I would like to see further work on UK food security and consideration of ultra-processed food, seriously looking at what it does to our public health,” she said.

BIRA CEO Andrew Goodacre called for all politicians to understand the importance of small businesses.

“We need mayors and local councillors who truly believe in the importance of high streets and the vital role played by indie retailers,” he said. 

“We need these decision makers to be business-friendly and recognise that without targeted support, many smaller retailers will continue to close.”

This article first appeared in the June 2024 edition of Fine Food Digest .