A RETAIL levy which could potentially generate millions of pounds for North Devon Council has been put on the back burner.
The idea was raised at a full council meeting on July 10 when the council decided to look into plans to introduce an 8.5 per cent levy on large retail outlets in the town.
The scheme would apply to outlets with a rateable value of £500,000 or more and could potentially generate £626,025 annually for the council.
The motion was referred to the council’s Executive for further consideration.
But at a meeting on Tuesday, the Executive’s deputy leader, Rodney Cann, said it was a “slippery slope” for the council to embark on the scheme alone.
Councillor Faye Webber agreed, saying: “In principle I would agree with this but I’m not quite sure it is the right way to be doing it.
“If this is a way to get money to help the town centre survive then fine. We have put 106 agreements on things when they have been built but that is only a one off whereas this would be annually.
“But I’m not quite sure about us doing a huge amount of work when there is a mixture of all the authorities. It might be better for us to do collectively.”
Councillor Cann suggested referring the issue to the Local Government Authority (LGA) for further discussion.
“I think it would be a slippery slope for us to go it alone on this issue,” he added “You don’t wave a magic wand and get this money — the customer pays it. I think it would put us at a disadvantage if we tried to go it alone.”
Councillor Derrick Spear commented on the effects the levy may have.
“There are always unforeseen circumstances,” he said. “I do not believe some of this will not impact on local communities in one way or another. I suspect one of the first things that would happen is they would start downsizing on some of their staff to recoop those profits.”
Des Brailey, leader of the Conservative opposition party, added: “Naturally I am very cautious about any extra taxes but if there are large supermarkets making lots of money we are able to tap into I think it would help us.”
Members agreed to refer the scheme to the LGA.