Supermarkets can well afford a levy to reduce the cost of car parking in Wiltshire
Councillor Terry Chivers and I brought our Supermarket Levy notice of motion to Wiltshire Council yesterday (Tuesday). To be honest, I anticipated a lively debate involving recriminations and much misinformation, and probably losing the vote.
For at one level this is quite a complex matter, but under the Sustainable Communities Act 2007 it is a perfectly legitimate proposal.
In Wiltshire, Terry and I wish to set an 8.5 per cent levy on all retail sites that have a rateable value of over £500,000. The money raised from this would be used to reduce Wiltshire Council car parking charges across the county.
The object is to bring life back into our high streets and give independent traders a fairer chance against the all powerful supermarkets.
It should be recognised that the supermarkets can well afford such a levy. They will easily lose it in their massive profits. The levy has been operating in Northern Ireland and Scotland and has not resulted in any increase in prices for the public, or in any dent in profits for the big four supermarket groups. The fact that Morrisons are working hard to establish a large store in Trowbridge and Marlborough, and similarly with Tescos in Chippenham, clearly indicates how they view Wiltshire towns as sources of further profits.
Anyway, back to the council meeting. The ruling Conservative group apparently wanted to look at the matter in greater detail and so passed it on to the main Scrutiny committee, of which I am a member.
I have to ensure positively that this is not a method of losing the issue “in the long grass”. So I will endeavour to keep readers up to date as to what transpires in scrutiny.
If people want more information on the Supermarket Levy proposal, they should contact Terry or me, or - click here to log on to the online petition.
Independent Wiltshire Councillor