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Supermarket tax thrown out

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: March 10, 2014

By Leslie Jackson

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A LEVY on supermarkets which would be used to help fund local services and facilities will not be introduced in the Staffordshire Moorlands after it was thrown out by councillors.

Leek North councillor Dr Darren Price put forward the motion at a meeting of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council which called upon the council to join a growing list of English authorities to support a new charge on large supermarkets of up to 8.5 per cent based on their current rateable value.

The proposal called for the Secretary of State to give local authorities the power to introduce the local levy on large supermarkets or large retail outlets in their area with an annual rateable value not less than £500,000.

The revenue would be retained by the local authority to improve local communities in their area by promoting local economic activity, local services and facilities.

Speaking to councillors Dr Price said: "This levy has already been implemented in Northern Ireland where they have used the revenue to help local businesses, and in Scotland where it has been used to improve public services.

"A growing number of English authorities plan to submit proposals for power to be given to introduce a similar levy in their area and to retain the revenue and spend it on ways to help local communities."

Councillor Mike Worthington said: "We want to welcome free trade. This is very shocking. This would lead to supermarkets putting up prices."

However, Endon councillor Henry Jebb said that support for the levy was coming from across the country.

He said: "There are opportunities and it could be beneficial to the local economy

"We need to have the ability in local tax revenue to support the local economy. It could also help with car parks."

Council leader Sybil Ralphs, said that if a levy was introduced jobs could be lost.

She said: "If this was imposed supermarkets could relocate to a neighbouring area where the levy was not taken on. This would lead to job cuts.

"The retail outlets could pass the levy on to customers."

But Leek councillor Pam Wood said supermarkets were making huge profits and that they seemed to be attracted to Leek.

She said: "Town centres suffer when they come in, so they should make a contribution."

Councillor Gill Heath said a lot of supermarkets did a lot for charities in the town.

She said: "One supermarket sent a team to redecorate Leek Cricket Club."

Councillor Stephen Ellis said: "To succeed profits margins will not be left to decrease.

"It would become another tax on the customer.

"It would also be a tax on jobs which we cannot afford at the moment."

Councillor Andrew Hart said a levy would drive more people to the internet.

He said: "It was said at Christmas the internet had taken more business. This would drive even more towards it."

Councillors voted to throw out the motion and not to proceed with looking at a levy being introduced in the Moorlands.

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