Conservatives aim for Labour Council to withdraw its ‘Pavement Tax’

Greenwich Conservatives announced their intention to propose the abolition of the Labour-run Council’s ‘Pavement Tax’ at a meeting of traders from across the borough in East Greenwich last week.  Conservative Leader Cllr Spencer Drury was joined by a representative of Federation of Small Businesses at the meeting where shops like ‘The Creaky Shed’ discussed the impact the charge would have on their businesses.

This new charge, which Labour is levelling against any shop which puts goods or displays outside its shop,  is expected to cost most businesses between £500 and £1,000 a year and some shops substantially more.  Smaller businesses across Greenwich, many of whom are already struggling, will find it particularly hard to afford this charge and it may tip some over the edge, forcing them to close.

 

Despite the fact that some shops may be put out of business by this charge, the Labour Council is only planning to net the around £20,000pa – less than is spent on the Annual Mayor Making in the Painted Hall at the Royal Naval College and a fifth of the amount the Council spends on Councillors pensions.

 

Now Conservatives, together with businesses across the Borough, are urging the Labour Councillors to change their minds and withdraw the tax.  Conservatives are bringing a motion to Full Council this month urging Labour to think again and anyone who values their local businesses are being urged to sign a petition to voice their concern about this tax.

 

Leader of Greenwich Conservatives, Cllr Spencer Drury said, “We think this is a ridiculous tax which will hit businesses at a time when they are struggling.  This is a very unfair revenue making scheme from the Council, who seem to think businesses are an easy way for them to make money.  Driving shops from our High Streets and smaller parades to raise £20,000 while spending more than this on the Mayor Making seems utterly ridiculous to me and reflects this Council’s warped priorities.”

 

I will be proposing a motion to abolish this tax the full Council meeting on Wednesday 30th October and I ask Labour Councillors to think again.  However, many Labour Councillors do not have a good record of standing up to their leadership, so I would urge residents to write to their Councillors and sign the petition to help the local Labour Party realise that there are more important things than fighting over who will inherit Nick Raynsford’s parliamentary seat.  Hopefully, together we can get Labour to change their minds and end this very damaging tax.”

 

Notes for readers

 

  1. You can sign a petition against the tax and see a sample letter or email on the website: http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/greenwich-council-remove-the-new-street-trading-licence-charge
  2. Find out who your Councillors are at:  http://www.writetothem.com/
  3. The Motion that is being put to Council at the end of October reads: 

 

“Council notes that at the July 2013 Council Meeting the Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Environment made several statements about the ‘Street Trading Policy’ which appear to be inaccurate.  These statements include:

 

  1. “The introduction of the forecourt trading policy was agreed by Cabinet on 23rd January 2013 and the rollout commenced in the first week of May following detailed preparation.” (in written answer to Mr Paul Webbewood)
  2. “[the] aim of introducing this Policy is not to make money it is simply to give businesses clarity as to what they can and can’t do.”  (in oral answer to Mr Paul Webbewood)

 

Council notes that what was actually agreed by the Cabinet in January was the introduction of a Street Trading Policy for the Royal Borough with the specific purpose of raising £20,000 in the financial year 2013/14. (Page 81 of 210, Cabinet Report, January 2013, DCSE1).

 

Furthermore in a response to questions from Cllr Spencer Drury about the introduction of the Street Trading Policy, the Chief Executive wrote:

“The Head of Law and Governance has made clear that the introduction of trading licences for forecourt tables and chairs and setting charges for them are Council and not Cabinet functions, and are delegated to the Director of Community Safety and Environment.”

Hence it seems clear that Cllr O’Mara made inaccurate and misleading statements regarding the origin and purpose of the Street Trading Policy. 

Council further notes that in the Cabinet Report the Director’s Comments relating to DCSE1 state “The detailed fee rates will be incorporated in a report to introduce a Street Trading Policy for the Royal Borough.” However, no report was produced to allow Council to examine the Street Trading Policy or the fees being proposed.

In addition, Council notes that the Street Trading Policy was introduced without a formal consultation and not even the Cabinet Member signed the proposals off before they were introduced. 

Hence Council:-

1.  Instructs the Director of Community Safety and Environment to withdraw the Street Trading Policy and refund all fees collected from businesses within the Royal Borough of Greenwich.

2.  Decides under ‘Schedule B - Council functions’ of the Constitution to withdraw all delegations to the Director of Community Safety and Environment.”