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MSPs grilled at SGF General Election hustings

Panel of MSPs

Party representatives were quizzed by key convenience retail representatives on the impact of crime, illicit trade, overregulation and trust in politics, at a lively hustings event hosted by the Scottish Grocers Federation in Falkirk earlier this week.

Chaired by BBC Scotland’s Gary Robertson, a panel of top economic spokespersons for each party took to the stage. Scottish Conservative Party MSP for South Scotland Brian Whittle; Scottish Labour Party MSP for Edinburgh Southern Daniel Johnson; prospective candidate and former Alba Party MP for East Lothian Kenny MacAskill; and Scottish Liberal Democrats MSP for North East Fife Willie Rennie MSP, took the opportunity to set out their priorities for a new UK Parliament, as well as key issues for Scottish policymakers.

Panellists recognised the vital importance of local stores and the services they provide for communities across Scotland. However, they also acknowledged that times are difficult for many small businesses, and new regulations ‘at the till point’, retail crime, business costs, and economic instability could put many retailers at risk.

Following the event, SGF Chief Executive, Dr Pete Cheema OBE said: “This hustings event comes at a pivotal time for our sector. With the upcoming General Election, it’s crucial for our voices to be heard and for policymakers to understand the challenges and opportunities convenience retailers face.

“Our sector represents a vital part of the Scottish Economy, with over 5,000 local stores providing over 49,000 jobs, as well as suppliers and producers from celebrated small and local businesses to distinguished nationwide industries. Convenience retailers provide essential lifeline services for millions of consumers and thousands of local communities right across Scotland.

“However, the pressure of overregulation, economic challenges, retail crime, the cost-of-living crisis and evolving consumer behaviour has had a significant impact on the viability of many local shops.

“This hustings event offered a unique opportunity for dialogue and engagement between sector stakeholders and political representatives, and I want to thank everyone, most of all our panellists, for taking part.”

The General Election hustings was held separately after the conclusion of SGF’s annual Mini Summit.

Read the full story in the next issue of Scottish Local Retailer.

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