Labour Councils Must Stand Together to Refuse to Extend Sunday Trading Hours

Determined to ignore the views of the public, the Government aims to totally deregulate Sunday trading by devolving powers on this matter to local authorities.

Labour Party MPs have been vocal in voicing their opposition to such changes; but given the current balance of forces, the proposed changes seem most likely to be pushed on through during the vote on this matter to be held in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

However, as all the most populous authorities in the country are actually presently being run by Labour, it is possible (if unlikely) for all Labour authorities, Leicester included, to join together in refusing to implement the Tories latest attack upon workers.

USDAW, the union, has already distributed a model motion which was sent to Labour councillors across the country in the hope of encouraging Labour to pledge their opposition to the government’s anti-worker plans.

But here in Leicester, despite our three Labour MPs being openly opposed to the Tories Sunday Trading agenda, our Labour Council has refused to publicly denounce such changes.

Sir Peter Soulsby seemed worryingly non-committal when questioned on this issue last year, saying: “I would not say we would not consider an extension if other cities were doing it but I think currently we have got the balance about right” (July 8, Leicester Mercury).

Considering his general approach to mismanaging our city, the apparent ‘requirement’ to place the needs of big corporate interests before the needs of the public is weighing heavily on Sir Peter’s mind.

So now is the time to remind Sir Peter, that not so many years ago, when he was a Labour MP for Leicester South, he signed a parliamentary motion that amongst other things, welcomed…

“…the NOP poll that shows that 62 per cent. of the public do not want any extension of the current six hours of Sunday opening by large stores; agrees with the public that 150 hours per week is enough for anyone to do their shopping; and believes that any extension of Sunday trading hours of large stores would have a serious impact on neighbourhood and community stores and would lead to job losses in this sector and a deterioration in local services.” (Early day motion 1085)

Maybe, just maybe, we can encourage Sir Peter to reaffirm this position by supporting USDAW’s sensible motion at the next full Council meeting on March 17.

This letter was emailed to the Leicester Mercury mailbox on March 8.

The Activist

For more details about the campaign to oppose Sunday Trading deregulation see http://www.keepsundayspecial.org.uk/evidence/mythbuster

Also read the excellent article “Mobilise Usdaw members to resist deregulation of Sunday Trading” which is featured in the January edition of The Activist, which is a monthly bulletin produced by Socialist Party members in Usdaw.

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