The Dorset Echo has started a brand new weekly column, giving councillors the opportunity to talk about the issues they care about and what's great in their community. Here is a contribution from Cllr Ryan Hope, who represents the Westham North ward.

This Christmas consider taking to our high streets and supporting independent retailers and businesses.

Your spending will boost the local economy. Research on spending by local authorities shows that for every £1 spent with a small or medium-sized business, 63p stayed in the local economy, compared to 40p with a larger business.

When you shop at local butchers, bakers, farm shops and greengrocers, it is likely that a decent percentage of the produce has had a short field-to-fork journey. Along with supporting local farmers and producers it means the food is likely to contain more nutrients and have less packaging.

There's also the hyper-local gift choice: independent bookshops often stock titles by local authors that aren't yet on the shelves of the major chains. Local shops also support local artists and designers, food producers and growers, so you're buying products absolutely unique to your area.

You might get a better deal or some good advice.

Local bakers throw in extras for regulars; grocers give informal discounts; and market stall holders are prepared to negotiate on prices.

Independent retailers can use their discretion to reward regular custom, and it can mean you get discounts on the items you actually want to buy, rather than being tempted by multi-buy offers in the big chains.

Christmas sales can account for between a third and nearly two-thirds of a retailer's annual turnover. A bad Christmas can mark disaster for a small business. Sadly, it really is a case of 'use it or lose it'.

Are you a councillor? If you would like to contribute, email your column to

We have also started a 'Prime Minister for a day' column, where our readers tell us what they would do if they were running the country. To contribute to this, email

Please keeo contributions to approximately 350 words.