Sweep North Devon supermarkets for more tax?


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North Devon Council is to be asked to lobby the government for an extra 8.5 per cent tax levy on the likes of Tesco and Sainsbury’s.

BIG businesses such as supermarkets should be charged to ply their trade in North Devon and the money ploughed back into the community, it has been claimed.

Councillor David Luggar has submitted a motion calling on North Devon Council to lobby the government for a change in the law that would mean giant businesses such as Tesco would pay an extra 8.5 per in rates.

It would only apply to those which already pay more than £500,000 per year, which in North Devon would mean several large supermarkets.

Figures obtained by the Gazette show the Tesco Extra at Seven Brethren pays more than £900,000 in business rates, while Sainsbury’s at Roundswell pays more than a million.

The Tesco at Eastern Avenue pays just over £700,000, some £30,000 less than the Fullabrook wind farm.

Instead of all going to the government before redistribution, the money raised from a levy would be kept by North Devon Council and used to promote economic activity, local services and facilities or other schemes to benefit the area.

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Mr Luggar’s proposal is based on the Local Works campaign, which is calling on councils across the country to take advantage of the Sustainable Communities Act legislation and lobby the government for change.

The scheme has already been adopted in Northern Ireland and Mr Luggar said the government would be legally obliged to respond the council within six months.

“We need to try to be doing something to ensure that money spent locally stays locally,” he said.

“The important thing is the authority gets a slice of the cake and if we could do it as an annual levy I’d be happy with that, but equally if we could get part of the existing revenue for community use, I’d be happy with that too.

“We do feel this would be a motion best decided by the whole council and not stuck on a committee.”

Councillor Des Brailey agrees and added: “If the government wouldn’t do this across the country, we believe special cases should be created for places such as North Devon and Torridge, which don’t have large numbers of people but cover a large area.”

Council leader Brian Greenslade said he believed it was an interesting idea and one worthy of examination:

“I am quite sure the council will show some interest and probably then as the executive to consider the matter,” he said.

“I’m sure we will take it forward but quite where it goes from there I’m not certain – officers will give advice on the potential and what we need to do next.”

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