The Liberal Democrats have unveiled a raft of new policies designed to give small shops a better chance of survival against the might of the supermarkets.

At the party's spring conference, local government spokesman Dan Rogerson told a fringe meeting organised by the ACS that his party planned to arm town halls with "greater powers to protect small traders from the overbearing economic power of supermarkets".

Proposals include the appointment of an independent retail regulator to tackle what Rogerson called the "abuse of market power by big retailers".

Also promised by the Lib Democrats was a shake-up of the rules to make it simpler for councils to judge planning applications on merit rather than being influenced by the cost of appeals. They also pledged a cut in tax for smaller retailers.