Councillor calls for support for levy on retail giants

June 27 2013

A motion calling on the city council to back an 8.5 per cent levy on supermarkets and large retail outlets has been put forward by Bishopston councillor Daniella Radice.

A motion calling on the city council to back an 8.5 per cent levy on supermarkets and large retail outlets has been put forward by Bishopston councillor Daniella Radice.

In her first motion to full council, the Green councillor asked her colleagues to give their support to a national campaign by Local Works to ask the government to give local authorities the power to impose the rate.

Ms Radice said it was estimated the levy could raise in the region of £1.6 million per year, a sum that could be invested in local shopping areas, she suggested.

“This motion is not about getting rid of supermarkets but just raising some more income from them, in recognition of the negative effects that they can have on communities,” she told Bishopstonvoice. “The council is facing huge cuts in its income over the next four years – £100 million – and I think it needs to be innovative in how it raises money.”

A number of councillors at the meeting on June 18 spoke in favour of some city supermarkets, however, particularly citing investment made in Hartcliffe by retailer Morrisons, providing employment in the area.

Councillor Anthony Negus (Lib Dem, Cotham) said: “I fear this could be a way of doing unforeseen damage to otherwise good works and I urge caution.”

Concerns were also raised that any increased cost for supermarkets would be passed on to customers and suppliers, while Councillor Mark Brain (Labour, Hartcliffe) said he believed smaller shops were less affordable for some city residents, adding: “Don't drive big stores out.”

After the meeting, Ms Radice said: “I find that fruit and vegetables are cheaper in my local shop than in a supermarket, the competition between supermarkets is such that they could not all pass the cost on to customers. In terms of employment, statistics show that per £100,000 of turnover small and medium businesses employ more people than larger ones.”

An amendment to the motion, allowing councillors to scrutinise the pros and cons of any levy, was agreed in a vote, a move Ms Radice said she welcomed.