Gloucester council to consider levy on superstores

A council could raise £1.26m a year by introducing a levy on out-of-town superstores, if a proposal is agreed.

The levy - 8.5% of the rate on large retail outlets - would affect nine supermarkets, DIY and electrical stores outside Gloucester's centre.

The motion, proposed by Lib Dem councillor Jeremy Hilton, will be debated by the council on 12 September.

But the Conservative leader of the council Paul James said the tax may send the wrong message to businesses.

'Encourage small traders'

Mr James said: "We will look in detail at the proposal, but my instinct is that loading more taxes on to business doesn't send out the message that Gloucester is a place that welcomes inward investment.

"Businesses will worry that this is the thin end of the wedge."

Labour's Kate Haigh said the proposition was made under the Sustainable Communities Act 2007.

"It will be interesting to see if other councils around the country have had success in introducing a levy," she said.

"However, I think we should give the legislation some time to bed down before we come up with any proposal for Gloucestershire."

Mr Hilton said any money raised by the levy would be used to help city centre traders.

He said: "Our aim is to help the city centre traders recover from damage done to it by large superstores trading outside the city centre.

"The large out-of-centre stores already benefit from free customer parking, whilst customers visiting city centre stores have to pay to park in city centre car parks.

"If approved, we will use the extra £1.26m income to improve the city centre, reduce vacant retail units and encourage small independent traders."

The large retail levy has been an option for councils since the Sustainable Communities Act of 2007.

If the proposal is agreed by councillors, it will then need to be approved by the Secretary of State.

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