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NEWS Cycling making waves at Westminster

Cycling and small business discussion never strayed far from the headlines last year and looks set to stay in the political spotlight as politicians and peers raise issues in Parliament

By Jonathon Harker

THE TAIL end of 2013 brought plenty of bicycle-relevant news from Westminster, including tax changes affecting small bike shops and pledges from political parties on what they’ll do for cycling if they are voted in. The Government’s financial statement at the end of 2013 revealed tax cuts that seem destined to help local retailers. Those measures include a discount of £1,000 on business rates for all retail premises with a rateable value of less than £50,000. Also announced was a two per cent cap on business rates increases for all non- domestic rateable premises from April 2014. Finally, a 50 per cent discount on rates bills for all businesses occupying empty premises was announced. The Association of Convenience Stores,

representing 33,500 local shops, has largely welcomed the measures. ACS chief exec James Lowman said: "The proposed cut in business rates is

fantastic news. This will help businesses to make investments in the next two years. "We also support the cap on rates at two per cent which we have advocated for a number of years. This will help businesses to plan for their costs over the long term, but only if it becomes a long- term commitment. "The reoccupation rate relief is also a

strong short term incentive to bring empty properties back into use.”

a ten point plan to tackle HGVs at a Labour Party summit. “The Labour Party has the opportunity to develop a solid set of targets and ambitions for cycling ahead of the 2015 general election. The Get Britain Cycling inquiry report is a blueprint we would like to see all political parties use to develop robust plans for cycling in this country driven by appropriate targets and incentives.”

Also receiving praise

“The Get Britain Cycling Report is a blueprint that we’d like to see all political parties use to develop robust plans with targets and incentives...”

Also in the parliamentary news came

pledges from the Labour party and Green party on cycling. Shadow Secretary Mary Creagh told The Guardian that she would place cyclist safety high on Labour’s transport policy agenda for the next general election. In other Labour news, British Cycling’s policy advisor Chris Boardman welcomed the party’s launch of

from the cycle community was Green peer and London Assembly member Jenny Jones, who released a ‘Lawless roads’ report calling for a motoring ‘mind-shift’. “We desperately need to update the rules of the road in order to reflect

the fact that three out of four road casualties in London are now vulnerable road users, either a pedestrian, a cyclist or a motor-cyclist." In contrast the Transport Committee meeting at the end of the year saw MPs exhibit a lack of knowledge and focus on the topic and were widely blasted by political and cycle commentators.


Can distributors and brands make a difference to local bike shops struggling to compete with online sellers? One anonymous IBD gives us his take…

“THE ONLINE bike buying virus seems to be spreading among mainstream shoppers. We are being as proactive as we can with loyalty card discount or trying to espouse the 'use or lose us' mantra without sounding condescending and we have great user feedback when we send out the odd survey by email. We even have regular customers seemingly empathising with us on the online threat and wanting to preserve us as a local shop…but then the sucker punch comes in when they ask for more discount than we have offered. I can't work out why so few bike

brands protect their dealers from bike in a box selling. Is it fear that the other manufacturers will not follow suit? We must all be chumps agreeing to large stocking-in orders and filling our floors full of bikes so the online guys take advantage of the showrooming practice. But surely people wouldn't stop buying bikes if they weren't so freely available on the internet?


Is there a behind the scenes movement to multilaterally shift from bike in a box advocacy? Could local bike shops make a difference if our voice was heard collectively? I don't really speak to enough shops to know the answer, but I sure as hell am getting bored wittering on about it with my own staff. I am reading a lot of articles advocating the support of local shops in general and how 50 per cent of spend in an independent ends up back in the local economy rather than five per cent spent online or at a chain store. Surely this is the right time to start leaning on the distributors? But I must admit I don't want to give two fingers to my bike brands in case they shrug and sell the brand to the next shop. United we stand, divided…we carry on grumbling in our workshops (which thankfully, mail order can't compete with...until they start sending large boxes to peoples houses?).”

“United we stand, divided we... carry on grumbling in our workshops...”


...willing to honestly tell us how business is on the front lines of bicycle retail? Email us at


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