Council could set Sunday trading rules in Yarmouth

Great Yarmouth town centre. Victoria ArcadeLove Local.Picture: James Bass

Great Yarmouth town centre. Victoria ArcadeLove Local.Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2013

Government plans to relax Sunday trading laws in England and Wales seemed to be set for defeat in November, after the chancellor, George Osborne, promised in the budget earlier last year that councils and mayors would get the power to set Sunday trading laws in their areas.

However it has been suggested that the changes could come into force this year, although the official line is that ministers are currently considering the results of a consultation.

The BBC reported they understand the government is preparing to push ahead with plans, with confidence that the minds of those opposing the move can be changed.

Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis, who is also Local Government Minister, would be working on drawing up the plans. He said that it would allow councils to favour areas which struggle to attract shoppers.

In Yarmouth, the borough council are already talking about allowing shops on the sea front and in the town centre to stay open later, in a bid to attract more people to these central areas. Popular out of town business parks, however, would not necessarily be afforded the same privilege.

Cllr Graham Plant, leader of the borough council, said: 'If we had this power this could be a shot in the arm to local businesses and allow them to compete with the big boys.'

Jonathan Newman, town centre manager, said: 'Shopping in a town centre which has longer hours could be a draw for shoppers rather than a retail park with shorter hours.

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'But all the shops would have to coordinate their hours or else the public would just get confused.'