A CHURCH minister has called for the Government to drop any thought of continuing with the extended Sunday opening hours after the Paralympics.

Reverend Peter Simpson of the Penn Free Methodist Church said if extended hours became permanent it would be an “assault on another fundamental Christian institution, namely the Sabbath.”

Supermarkets and larger stores, which usually are only allowed to open for a maximum of six hours between 10am and 6pm on Sundays, have been allowed to open longer during the Games.

And last week Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said he would be willing to look at the impact of the temporary relaxation in trade, as some groups call to keep the extended hours.

The longer hours are in place until September 9.

Reverend Simpson said: “The existing law, which allows the big shops to open for six hours, already represents a blatant rejection of God’s law. Further relaxation will be Britain saying that its Christian identity is completely finished.

“What our politicians fail to understand is that it is God alone who determines whether or not a nation prospers. How the Lord’s Day is treated, the day of Christ’s resurrection, is a barometer of both a nation’s and an individual’s standing with God”.

The Sunday Trading Act was introduced in 1994 to allow shops to open on a Sunday.

The Rev. Simpson said man does not need bread alone but also spiritual refreshment.

He said: “When we have bought all the food for our bodies, and all the things to put in our houses, we may still find ourselves with tragically neglected souls.”

BID Development Manager, Oliver O’Dell, of the High Wycombe Town Centre Partnership said: “The view of the BID Company is that high-street businesses must not be unduly constrained from competing with those that trade more flexibly on-line.

“Whilst it is probably inevitable that Sunday trading hours will further increase in the future, and will become the norm (anyone remember half-day closing during the week), we do not see this as a stand-out issue.

“More important is a meeting of minds that can make real progress in resolving issues of infrastructure, such as rental levels and parking charges, and those that support increased customer engagement.

“If high-street business can become less reliant on passing trade and infrequent, pre-planned, shopping visits there will be less pressure to confirm to longer and longer opening hours. The role of Business Improvement Districts is critical in supporting this change.”