A TORY MP has called for more support for small, independent retailers struggling to survive.

Dr Bob Spink has called for fresh policies to help shops and small businesses in Castle Point.

He pinned his hopes on the launch of the Conservatives' nationwide initiative to help small shops.

From October until December, a Conservative commission will review the future of small shops and high streets.

It will focus on five key topics - planning, parking, business rates, competition and crime.

The commission is seeking the views of local retailers and is keen to assess how individual retailers and town centres have overcome problems.

Dr Spink said: "Our high streets are under increasing threat from bad planning decisions and high parking rates from local councils, and the convenience offered by local supermarkets.

"I think this campaign will have widespread support in the community, and I welcome comments from my constituents."

Thakor Patel, 62, has run Alf's Newsagent, on High Road, Benfleet, for 23 years, but is now set to close.

He was devastated by Castle Point Council's decision in July to demolish a number of shops in the street, and replace them with flats, underground parking, and only four new shops.

Mr Patel said: "Dr Spink's support for small businesses is too late for us.

"But something has to be done to reverse the trend of small businesses closing.

"It rips the heart out of the community.

"There is no post office near here and ever since it was announced we are to close, I've had customers coming in to ask where they will be able to pay their bills."

Traders who would like to be consulted can e-mail Dr Spink at spinkr@ parliament.uk before the cut off of September 30.