29 February 2016 - Janet Bird
An alliance of Christian leaders has spoken out against the Government's planned relaxation of Sunday trading laws.
For the first time, senior figures from the Church of England, Church of Wales, Catholic, United Reform Church, Methodist and Salvation Army have issued a joint statement opposing the proposal.
In a letter to The Telegraph newspaper, the faith leaders warmed that allowing large chain stores to stay open for longer on a Sunday would impact negatively on family life and harm small businesses, who currently benefit from the stricter Sunday trading rules governing large stores.
The statement from the faith leaders came after a campaign group called Keep Sunday Special threatened to take legal action to stop the Government from changing the current trading laws, through measures contained in the Enterprise Bill, to allow local councils in England and Wales the power to allow large retailers in their area to open for longer.
The campaign issued the Government with a "letter before action" announcing its plans to seek a judicial review on the matter, citing "fundamental flaws" in the process the Government has undertaken which require "full consideration", not the "inadequate process that has taken place to date”.
The Association of Convenience Stores has also criticised the Government plans, which it says will benefit only out of town stores, not high streets, small shops or post offices.
Business Secretary Sajid Javid insisted, however, that relaxing current Sunday trading laws would empower local authorities to "help struggling high streets".