Nick Herbert supports village high streets and local food
Nick Herbert has spoken of the importance of maintaining vibrant village high streets and supporting local food as the “great assets” of rural communities.
The Shadow Environment Secretary visited Steyning and Hassocks high streets on Monday (12 April) and spoke to local shopkeepers.
Mr Herbert met Nick Hempleman of The Sussex Produce Company in Steyning, where they discussed the issue of local food.
Mr Herbert heard how the business has thrived by selling high-quality fresh local produce, much of it sourced from farmers and producers on the South Downs.
Mr Hempleman said he was concerned about the impact of large out-of-town supermarkets on small independent businesses on the High Street.
There was also a discussion about the need for clearer food labelling, to give consumers honest and accurate information about where their food comes from. Mr Herbert talked about the 'Honest Food' campaign which he launched last year, calling for meat labelled British to be born and bred in Britain.
The campaign has already managed to persuade several major supermarket chains, including Tesco, to improve their food labelling.
Mr Herbert has also pledged that a future Conservative Government will require all central government departments to ensure that the food they serve meets British standards of production, with the aim of driving more local sourcing across the public sector.
The Sussex Produce Company's shop in Steyning High Street was opened by Nick Hempleman, originally from Henfield and a former Steyning Grammar School student, in November 2007.
The official launch was attended by the BBC's vegetable guru Carol Klein who described the shop as "simply fabulous".
After winning Sussex Food Shop of the Year in 2009 at the Sussex Food Awards, the firm has been selected as a finalist again this year, beating off competition from 600 other businesses.
Nick Herbert commented: "It was good to talk to many local shop keepers this week. I feel very strongly that we must do all that we can to maintain vibrant village high streets. I also want to promote local food production. These small stores are the great assets of our rural communities.
"I was delighted to meet Nick on Monday. The Sussex Produce Company is a fabulous store which shows how much people value high quality local produce."
Mr Herbert added: "I'm pleased to hear that The Sussex Produce Company has been selected as a finalist in the Sussex Food Awards once again. It's richly deserved and I wish them luck!"
Notes for Editors
1. For more information on The Sussex Produce Company, visit http://www.thesussexproducecompany.co.uk/Home.html.
2. For information on Nick Herbert's Honest Food Campaign, visit http://www.honestfoodcampaign.com/.