from Shamus Lehel, Preferred Alliance of Londis Shopkeepers

Sir; I was interested to read Keith Wilson’s letter (‘The other side of the high street story’, Readers’ letters, The Grocer, November 19, p32). He makes some interesting points concerning the takeover of the high street by the multiples and concludes that this is democracy and free market competition at work.
If what we are seeing is the natural evolution of the marketplace, then it stands to reason that there is no place in this new world order for compassion or charity.
The fair trade produce from third world countries is not the cheapest, but it fulfils our sense of fair play. And our National Health Service would not exist if we only followed the law of the marketplace.
If it is only about natural evolution, then why do we have quotas in this country? Why not just open our borders to the free market? Quotas are there to protect us from nations that can produce goods more cheaply than we can. By the same token, independent retailers need protecting from the multiples.
If we follow Wilson’s argument to its natural conclusion, then British farmers will join the ranks of British shipbuilders, car workers and miners in having nothing to produce.
We do not ask for charity or favours from the OFT, only a common sense approach and the courage to do the right thing.
In a civilised, rich country like ours, the weak need to be protected from the strong by legislation that works in our favour, not that of the multiples.
Because, in the end, a world where only the multiples dominate the English high street would be a less colourful world and, ultimately, a world with less choice.