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Tax on Liverpool supermarkets urged to save local shops

'It's not too late to reverse damage to our high streets'

Written by . Published on July 10th 2013.

Tax on Liverpool supermarkets urged to save local shops

TESCO, ASDA and other big supermarkets in Liverpool could be forced to pay a “community tax” to help struggling local retailers.

National statistics that show that in the last 50 years over 80 per cent of independent shops on high streets have closed, including local butchers, fishmongers, greengrocers and bakeries.

The idea, which will be thrashed out by Liverpool city councillors, is to impose a levy on the big supermarkets and use the proceeds to help sustain community shops and facilities.

It seems Bristol, another Mayor-run, city is already looking at such a scheme which would use current government legislation. In Liverpool it has been proposed by Green party councillor John Coyne.

Delifonseca_Inside_Shop-RS-430X284Where do you buy your jam? Despite the figures, he says: “We should not accept for a minute that the retreat of local shops in the face of supermarket competition is irreversible.

“If Tesco and its rivals face, say a five per cent levy on their rates in Liverpool, they won’t leave town, and if they do somebody else will take over.”

Gloomy predictions for the high street are being made nationally, with suggestions that a quarter of shops could disappear over the next few years, killed off by a multi-onslaught of competition from on-line shopping, increasing overheads and the recession, which has left many people counting their pennies.

Added Cllr Coyne: “This is about unlocking democracy and using current government sustainability legislation to help us redress the imbalances in our shopping centres.”

Cash raised could be used to animate shopping areas, provide tax breaks for a new generation of shopkeepers to give them a leg up the ladder.

“It is all about taking a long look at what our shopping centres are for and what their role is in society. Many of these centres have faced decades of competition from the big supermarkets who move in, saying they are creating hundreds of jobs. But at what social cost to the community?

Empty Shops Liverpool80 per cent of local shops have closed in the past 50 years

“It is now possible to go to a supermarket, use the self-service check outs and do your shopping without speaking to another human being. Local shops are often the glue essential in community cohesion.”

In its deal with Liverpool City Council three years ago, Tesco pledged £600,000 to the Dingle area to facilitate its opening in Park Road. But not everyone was convinced.

The proposal will be discussed at next Wednesday's meeting of Liverpool City Council.

Campaigning to halt the march of the superstores

One challenge to the overpowering high-street domination of the supermarkets is being led by national campaign organisation, localworks.org.

Tesco Park Road
Localworks is campaigning to halt the decline of the high street and end the ripple effect it has through communities – and they say a major factor in this decline is the relentless rise of large supermarkets. They are calling on people to lobby their own councillors to implement  the Sustainable Communities Act which would see such levies imposed on the giants.

These are the stark statistics from Localworks which they say are a result of the big supermarkets.

* Over 80 percent of independent shops on high streets have closed,including local butchers, fishmongers, greengrocers and bakeries.

* Meanwhile, hundreds of new supermarkets are opening and increasing the number of local convenience stores they own.

* The supermarkets control a whopping 97 percent of the grocery market, and they take money out of local communities.

* Half  the turnover of an independent local retailer goes back into the local community, while just 5 per cent of the turnover of a supermarket does.

* Every time a new supermarket opens, 276 jobs are lost locally. Between 2008 and 2010, the big supermarkets Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s, pledged to create 67,000 new jobs. They fell far short of this target, creating just 28, 217 jobs.

* A staggering 17 billion portions of fruit and vegetables are left to rot by supermarkets, rejected because they are not considered “uniform”. To reach the standards supermarkets demand, intensive farming techniques are necessary, with a limited variety of food grown and use of chemicals to keep the fruit looking perfect.

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30 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Red LeicesterJuly 10th 2013.

I'm sick of hearing upmarket traders whingeing on about how the supermarkets are spoiling it for them. If I want cheese, why should I have to trawl to a specialist shop in an upper middle class area miles away and pay three times as much for it as in the local Tescos. It's cheese, get over it. Same with bread. Bread should not be a designer commodity you pay £2.50 for. It's a piece of bread. "Artisan" breadmakers, "craft breweries" your beer tastes like dishwater, you give independent family businesses a bad name! No wonder people go to supermarkets!! No Tesco in Hope Street campaign, you are just as bad!! Did anyone bother asking people who live around Hope Street if they thought a Tescos might be useful???

8 Responses: Reply To This...
John BradleyJuly 10th 2013.

What I always found worrying about the No Tesco mob, was they where so anonymous, just like the Car Park Preservation Society or the Sefton Park Meadows group. Their selection of what to oppose seems based on the proposer rather than the proposition.

AnonymousJuly 11th 2013.

I don't think anyone is saying that you should have to "trawl to a specialist shop in an upper middle class area miles away". Your local bakers that do the artisan breads will also gladly do you a bog-standard white loaf if you wish. Your local breweries that do dishwater beers will probably do lagers, spirits or even allow you to try as many different types of their product to find what you like before you buy. But the big problem is that these supermarkets, while reducing what you would pay for your weekly shop by a fiver a week, are people's livlihoods out of business. Not everything in these independent shops are expensive - see the likes of Matta's on Bold St. which do a lot of things cheaper than the likes of Tesco. You're spending your money on a multi-national organisation which isn't doing much to help your area. And if they are investing, it's nowhere near as much as they should considering how much money they're being fed. Support your local businesses!

John BradleyJuly 11th 2013.

What they are saying is force prices up in supper markets, so that shop keepers can make a living, basically a tax on the poor.

Blackstick blueJuly 11th 2013.

Hear hear! We have another story about food banks and the people who are forced to go to them must love it when they read about another shop selling vastly overpriced groceries because it's "artisan". Taking the piss more like. If these people want to make a living then they should jolly well lower their prices

AnonymousJuly 12th 2013.

did you not read the ariticle it is most certainly not about high end artisan shops struggling. Its about your average run of the mill grocer, butcher etc struggleing.

TourmanJuly 12th 2013.

Red Leicester appears to have a chip on his shoulder about the middle classes and cheese. He sounds cheesed off to me with anyone outside his narrow view.

Red leicesterJuly 15th 2013.

I will have a slice of petit bourgeois with grapes and celery.

John BradleyJuly 15th 2013.

Would you like that in a bag or gilded cage?

Stinking bishopJuly 10th 2013.

When I was a lad, there was a Tesco's on every street corner, practically, and the shops all survived

4 Responses: Reply To This...
John BradleyJuly 10th 2013.

You had to visit about 20 corner shops a day to get your shopping in as you could not live out of any single one. You had to walk at least 5 miles just buy the ingredients for a decent sandwich.

AnonymousJuly 10th 2013.

I don't think anyone denies that supermarkets serve a need and offer a lot of products at good prices The issue is their overwhelming dominance, much greater than when we were lads, and growing. All offer the same range and only what they choose to sell, which has the effect of restricting the market place as the small vendors are squeezed out and all you can get is what the big guys choose to sell Diversity is vital, so everyone has a place and we get choice

Stinking bishopJuly 11th 2013.

There was a sense of community when you had to go to lots of shops every day, everybody knew each other and looked out for each other. It wasn't perfect but it was a good way to run a society. Supermarkets will survive when all other shops have gone to the wall, which cannot be good for the way we interact with each other.

AnonymousJuly 12th 2013.

The variety and range of products in supermarkets today is massive compared to what small local retailers used to provide. Chinese, japansese, thai, indian, mexican, tex-mex, middle eastern, mediteranian, african etc etc where were all these things 30 years ago. small shops would struggle to provide them.

Professor CheaperbuttyJuly 11th 2013.

Listen, I'll tell you about corner shops. We have a go at the supermarkets for taking over and driving them out of business but the fact is that some of them were bloody awful. I think we look back on them through rose tinted vegetables. It was a blessing when the first Tesco opened. Just a small one about the size of a bargain booze but the things you could buy there compared to the local shop were wonderful. Plus, you were finally free of the old b*stard standing behind his counter glaring at you like you had interrupted his day, taking his time to go and get each item off his neatly stacked shelves and sighing at the effort. Then plonking it down and saying Is That It? (like you have made him get up out of his armchair because you wanted a quarter of Mantunna tea! How inconsiderate. Then if in order to speed things up you listed several items at once, he'd say alright hang on, hang on. You couldn't win with the miserable gits. I tell you when I was growing up, the two nearest precious local shops were run by gossiping old mares, who would leave you standing there waiting to be served while they pulled some poor bugger to shreds behind their backs. One of them had a slate, not for credit but if you didn't have enough on you, say your were thruppence short. She'd write it down and if you didn't pay up the next day, your name would go in the window. Nasty old mare. Tight as a duck's ar*se too. Buy a quarter of sherbert lemons and she wouldn't mind if the scales were slightly under but bloody hell, if it was a bit over she'd spend as long as it took, taking them off one by one with her fingers, terrified you might get a free one. Then the next nearest was a family affair who must have held the world record for doziness. You could be in there 15 minutes trying to buy a packet of bicuits. Then of course there were a few others that we were banned by my dad from entering because in his words they were "One robbing b*stard that!" Especially the greengrocer according to my dad, who would go off somewhere on his motorbike and sidecar to buy spuds and other veg. But we would still use them when my dad was out. Where did you get those carrots, not from that robbing b*stard was it? And what did they sell? You were lucky if they had a fridge, never mind a freezer. You couldn't get a packet of frozen peas, you had to have those bloody bullets that needed soaking overnight or else buy a tin. It was only when Edna Brit opened her shop on the corner of Strathcona Rd that we got to sample the delights of Fish Fingers as she had two big freezer cabinets. Problem was that my dad quickly labelled them robbing gets. Now the Tesco we did have was a tiny one which took over from Irwins on Lawrence Road. But it was amazing to see so much stuff. Exotic things like Harvey's Duo cans. Curry in the top, Rice in the bottom. Advertised on telly by Leslie Crowther and now tanks to Tesco available to us . They had Vesta Chow mein and Paella! It opened a whole new world for us. Now of course we have supermarkets selling fresh healthy produce that you could never get in the local shop. They could never sustain a business based on fresh produce like the supermarket or manage the spoils or sell by dates that allows us the choice we have and what we come to expect. Now despite that I am lucky to have nearby two independent shops that I use all the time. A bakery and a Fishmonger and unlike the old days they are nice people. But that's it really. It needs to be a semi specialist shop catering for a particular market. The old corner shop is dead and gone and mow exists largely as a glorified newsagent. If we want them back we are going to have to pay the price demanded by the "robbing b*stards" as my dad would have said, but that's the reality, that's the market, that's capitalism, cheaper methods of production and monopoly of the market to increase profits. You can't undo it now. it sounds nice, the idea of local shops for local people, but it's an ideal that will only suit the reasonably well off or perhaps a small rural community. We want what the supermarkets have to offer even though we might hate them and the way they operate and the waste and greed. But most of us could not afford to go and shop in some independent deli where we buy our cous cous and raw cane sugared almond flapjacks with guava flakes. You may as well blame all of the Indian Chinese French Italian or Thai restaurants from driving the greasy spoon cafes out of business. But I don;t hear many people going out for an evening meal complaining about the lack of a decent plate of egg and chips.

4 Responses: Reply To This...
Mrs KirkhamJuly 11th 2013.

"The two nearest precious local shops were run by gossiping old mares, who would leave you standing there waiting to be served while they pulled some poor bugger to shreds behind their backs." Yes, they still exist these shop owners, you will find them bitching about people online. Aside from that, very, very good points professor. The genie is out of the bottle

John BradleyJuly 11th 2013.

I can remember going into by Tampax for the GF and the shop keeper claiming not to have any despite them being in plain sight. Only his wife would sell them and then only to women. So I bought a copy of massive jugs and a cock ring and left.

Yaffle ChucklebuttyJuly 11th 2013.

I remember going into the shop to buy tent pegs but he must have not heard me properly. Anyway the tent blew away.

TourmanJuly 12th 2013.

Did you live in a shoebox on the outside lane of the motorway? Sorry there would not have been motorways when you were a lad. Reads like a chapter from "Angela's Ashes"

AnonymousJuly 11th 2013.

I always had you down as a crockery collector and keeper of poultry JB

AnonymousJuly 11th 2013.

Any tax would only be passed on to the customer anyhow, JB would find himself paying more for the general foremans tintacks and chucklebutty would have to go back to whittling. Did I detect a Welsh accent in Ceaperbutty's rant?

Florrie LindleyJuly 12th 2013.

The reason the high streets are emptying of shops is only partly to do with supermarkets. Greedy landlords are raking the rents in and if a small business like a shop can't afford to stay there then a chain betting shop, payday loan shark company or a pawn shop will be delighted to take over their premises on the high street. What is requiired is PROPER planning, incentives to socially desirable businesses whose presence improves the quality of life, a sliding scale of business rates, perhaps even rent control. It's not a choice of independent shops OR supermarkets, with the correct governance in place we can have both.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
Gordon CleggJuly 15th 2013.

Being a landlord these days is a licence to print money. A report out yesterday shows that a third of the country is effectively out of bounds for people on normal incomes because of high private rents.

Idris HopkinsJuly 15th 2013.

Not that these Tory scoundrels will do anything to relieve the problem, their mates are the one laughing all the way to the bank. I wonder what the New Labour Tories will do about it? Nothing I suppose.

Violent CarsonJuly 15th 2013.

I'll have a Mackeson's

AnonymousJuly 12th 2013.

What an awful proposal and waste of the councils time. firstly supermarkets are cheeper than local shops, why would an elected council want to do something that will push up prices and make their electorate poorer? With the current cuts surely any money raised should go to essential services anyway. then you have the problem of who is a supermarket anyway you cant just pick on people cause your passing a law you need a test and how should you define that. you also need to consider that all these lost profits go to shareholders, like for example most of the people of liverpool who have private pension savings so to what degree is the money lost? Then you get to the unhappy truth that if people wanted to shop local they would shop local, the decline in the highstreet has been gradual over years and its about consumer choice, a tax would be the councils way of saying the people of liverpool arent bright enough to know where they should be buying their own bread and butter. The whole proposal is so full of holes its a joke its made it onto the council agenda, but then now the chamber has no power what choice does it have other than to debate irelevancies.

Idris HopkinsJuly 24th 2013.

I sometimes think we are being nostalgic for something that would not survive today. If you can be bothered seasonal fruit and vegetables can be purchased from independent greengrocers for half what is being charged in Tesco, but shoppers are lazy. They still waddle straight into big supermarkets with their slack jaws, gormless expressions and their car keys clutched in their pudgy fists.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJuly 24th 2013.

We've obviously met, you described me to a tee.

Violent CarsonJuly 24th 2013.

The chief executive of Tesco (another scouser) was being interviewed by Jay Rayner in the Observer at the weekend. He said that food prices in supermarkets would have to go up because we now have to share our global food supplies with newly rich Chinese and Indian classes. He bemoaned the fact that we have to get food from abroad because the UK is now only 50 per cent self sufficient whereas 20 years ago it was 75 per cent. Of course, Tesco and Asda and the like forced many farmers out of business with their highly aggressive and sharp buying practices. Could the two be connected? We will never know, Rayner never asked.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJuly 24th 2013.

Well if you don't ask.

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