Kirklees Council won’t back supermarket Tax

Tesco Extra in Batley.
Tesco Extra in Batley.

Kirklees Council will not be backing a campaign to levy a new tax on supermarkets in a bid to rescue battered high streets.

Derby Council and 19 other local authorities want to gain the right to impose a levy on large supermarkets, retain the money raised, and use it to help small businesses and community centres.

The levy – dubbed the ‘Tesco Tax’ – is already in place in Scotland and Northern Ireland and supporters claim the tax could raise up to £400m a year.

But Coun Peter McBride, Cabinet member for investment and regeneration, said the council was not one of the authorities backing the plans.

“We try and encourage different types of investment but sending a message to supermarkets to stay clear is not going to be a good one,” he said.

“They do have a big impact on high streets but often they can help struggling areas.

“I think you have got to be careful about putting a blanket tax over all supermarket as the council can not start manipulating the market.”

Batley Business Association chairman Andrew Marsden said: “We welcome any initiative that helps to promote Batley’s high street but we think the plan would be hard to manage.

Perhaps a better idea would be for these companies to make payments to help town centres when they apply to open large stores, which inevitably take away trade from small independent retailers.”

Dewsbury Chamber of Trade member Andrew Hutchinson contacted Kirklees Council proposing a similar idea last year, but it was rebuffed.

He said: “I still believe a special rate charge would be the best way to collect revenue.

“If you have a lump of money then that can be spent on areas of the town centre most in need and help bring it in line with the 21st century.”