British Baker’s editor Sylvia Macdonald was among a small group of journalists invited to interview Prime Minister Tony Blair earlier this week.

In light of the All Party Small Shops Group parliamentary reports, Sylvia asked the Prime Minister if the amount of red tape, restricted access for deliveries, limited parking for customers and high business rates affecting small shops could seriously be reviewed?

The Prime Minister said that he was in favour of freeing up access to small shops and that one thing the government wanted to do was re-invigorate planning laws.

Sylvia then cited the totally different model of accountability that local councils have to small shops in Europe, where their policiies are designed to really enable small local shops to thrive.

She asked if we could improve the model here. Blair replied that local authorities were looking at the situation and allocating more funds to small shops.

Finally, she cited the example in Australia, where supermarkets are now built as part of a complex that must include small shops.

The Prime Minister said that he was unaware of that model, but indicated an interest.