Sadiq's article for the Federation of Small Business (FSB)
I spent the UK’s first ever Small Business Saturday serving cappuccino’s and cake to my Tooting constituents in one of our brilliant local coffee shops, Bertie and Boo’s. It was a pleasure to spend the day showing my support for small businesses and to see what it is like to work in a small business today. But in Tooting, as elsewhere, our high streets and local businesses are really suffering. Which is why, before Christmas, I launched a local 'save our high streets' campaign.
Last summer, a popular and successful local pub, The Wheatsheaf, in the heart of Tooting Bec, was at risk of a supermarket takeover. The local community rallied and almost 10,000 people signed a petition calling for the council to prevent the takeover. Luckily, by working together we have been able to stave off the threat for now. And yet, if a planning application to change the pub into a supermarket had been put before the local council, Councillors would have been unable to block it. It is madness that 10,000 local people can speak out against a supermarket opening on their doorstep and yet those voices go unheard.
We need a change of tack from the government; that’s why I am working with local businesses and residents to call for a change in planning laws. People want to see the power handed back to local communities and away from central government. They want to see local businesses on their high streets, not more betting shops and payday lenders. It is only once the power is handed back to our communities that we will see our high streets and local businesses able to thrive again – when our communities have the shops they want to use and we have a planning system that empowers local people and supports local businesses.