I’ve been saddened at the recent spate of crimes against local stores across High Peak.
Thieves have targeted businesses and been prepared to use more extreme tactics including violence or climbing through the roof to get what they want.
I extend my sympathy and support to everyone who’s been affected by these crimes.
Having worked for many years for the shopworkers’ trade union, Usdaw, I know the impact that crime has on the people who work in stores and on small business owners.
Staff can suffer trauma for many years after a robbery, especially if violence is involved, and it’s often difficult for them to return to their place of work.
At Usdaw, I set up a ‘Freedom from Fear’ campaign to encourage both employers and government to do more to support staff affected. Having worked on this with Co-op, I was very pleased to hear that staff at the New Mills store felt the company had done all they could to support them.
I now chair the Small Shops Group in Parliament and know that local shops can find it difficult to keep going at the best of times. Many of our local stores have suffered over the summer from the heavy weather and from road closures due to Toddbrook Dam.
In Chapel, the roadworks closing Sheffield Road now look set to continue for longer, and businesses that have suffered all summer are worried it will affect their vital pre-Christmas trade.
I’m delighted that the Labour Group on High Peak Council has agreed support to help to regenerate town centres in the centre of High Peak which have more vulnerable high streets and have been particularly affected this summer.
We are starting to see more police recruited after the increase in our Council Tax in April, and I was pleased to meet members of the Rural Crime Team at Hope Show. The team has expanded and can now devote more time to High Peak, where they’ve already been working to support our local police.
After losing over 800 experienced police officers and staff over the recent years of austerity, its good to see new recruits, but it will take proper government investment to tackle our rising crime and the increasingly aggressive methods of criminals.
I’m pleased that Police and Crime Commissioner Hardyal Dhindsa has agreed that all officers who want one can have a taser as these help to protect officers in difficult situations and can be an effective deterrent.
In the meantime, we can all make sure we use our local stores so we don’t lose them as they’re an important part of our strong communities.
Please nominate your Best Small Shop on my website or Facebook.