Meeting Details

Trading Board
6 Aug 2014 - 18:00 to 20:00
Scheduled
G3
  • Documents
  • Attendance
  • Visitors
  • Declarations of Interests

Documents

Agenda

Part A
1 Welcome and Announcements

a)     The Chairman to welcome members of the public and Councillors and to remind all speakers of the requirement for microphones to be used at all times.

(b)     At the Chairman's discretion, to announce information on:

  • action in the event of an emergency;
  • mobile phones switched to silent;
  • the audio-recording of meetings;
  • location of toilets;
  • introduction of members of the meeting.
2 Substitutions

Members may arrange for a substitute councillor to attend a meeting on their behalf, subject to prior notice being given. The attendance of substitute councillors must be recorded.

3 Minutes
To confirm as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 18 June 2014.
11
RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 18 June 2014 be confirmed as a correct record.

4 Declarations of Interest

The Chairman to invite Councillors to declare individually any interests they may have in the items on the agenda. Councillors should consult Meetings General Procedure Rule 7 for full guidance on the registration and declaration of interests. However Councillors may wish to note the following:- 

  • Where a Councillor has a disclosable pecuniary interest, other pecuniary interest or a non-pecuniary interest in any business of the authority and he/she is present at a meeting of the authority at which the business is considered, the Councillor must disclose to that meeting the existence and nature of that interest, whether or not such interest is registered on his/her register of Interests or if he/she has made a pending notification.  
     
  • If a Councillor has a disclosable pecuniary interest in a matter being considered at a meeting, he/she must not participate in any discussion or vote on the matter at the meeting. The Councillor must withdraw from the room where the meeting is being held unless he/she has received a dispensation from the Monitoring Officer.
     
  • Where a Councillor has another pecuniary interest in a matter being considered at a meeting and where the interest is one which a member of the public with knowledge of the relevant facts would reasonably regard as so significant that it is likely to prejudice the Councillor’s judgement of the public interest, the Councillor must disclose the existence and nature of the interest and withdraw from the room where the meeting is being held unless he/she has received a dispensation from the Monitoring Officer.
     
  • Failure to comply with the arrangements regarding disclosable pecuniary interests without reasonable excuse is a criminal offence, with a penalty of up to £5,000 and disqualification from office for up to 5 years.
5 Have Your Say!
a) The Chairman to invite members of the public to indicate if they wish to speak or present a petition at this meeting – either on an item on the agenda or on a general matter not on this agenda. You should indicate your wish to speak at this point if your name has not been noted by Council staff.

(b) The Chairman to invite contributions from members of the public who wish to Have Your Say! on a general matter not on this agenda.
6 Urgent Items

To announce any items not on the agenda which the Chairman has agreed to consider because they are urgent, to give reasons for the urgency and to indicate where in the order of business the item will be considered.

See report by the Head of Commercial Services.
12
The Board considered a report from the Head of Commercial Services providing background on the “supermarket levy”, a potential levy that could be imposed on large retail units. In addition to the report, the Board also had before it an extract from the BBC website giving an update on how some local authorities were seeking government approval to introduce such a levy.  Gareth Mitchell, Head of Commercial Service, introduced the report and explained that it had been brought to the Board following a request from Board during the previous municipal year. It was stressed that there was no power to introduce a levy at this stage: the Sustainable Communities Act only provided an opportunity for local authorities to request the Secretary of State to allow them to levy such a charge.

Councillor Liddy attended and, with the consent of the Chairman addressed the Board.  He thanked officers for the comprehensive information provided.  He explained that 95% of all money spent in major retail outlets left the local economy. He felt that the arguments against the introduction of such a levy could not be sustained.  He did not believe that the introduction of a levy would place the borough at a competitive disadvantage versus neighbouring authorities.  Market forces would dictate the success of major retail units, rather than the imposition of relatively minor levies. Major retailers would not leave Colchester if such a levy was imposed. Neither did he believe that it would be confused with CIL: it was clearly similar to a business rate rather than a planning charge and would be collected in the same way as business rates.  Such a levy had been successfully introduced in Scotland and Northern Ireland.   Major retailers would be able to absorb the costs of such a levy in the same way they had absorbed rises in VAT and given the profit levels they enjoyed, would be able to pay such a levy. It was important that new sources of revenue were found to invest in the Borough.

Councillor Quince attended and, with the consent of the Chairman addressed the Board.  He opposed the introduction of such a levy on the grounds tht it was anti-competitive and created an artificial market.  It was inflationary and would deter out of town retailers from coming to Colchester.  The comparison with Scotland and Northern Ireland was not valid as the levy had been introduced on a national scale, thereby negating issues of competitive disadvantage. It would essentially be a tax on hard working families in Colchester.  Major retailers made a significant contribution to local economy and should not be penalised for their success.  The unfairness between out of town retailers and town centre retailers would be best addressed through a reduction in town centre parking charges, which was the responsibility of the Council, or through extending business rate relief to small businesses.

In discussion, members of the Board raised the following issues and made the following points:-

The purpose of a levy should be to improve the economic, social and environmental well-being of an area, rather than to plug budget gaps.
Supermarkets would be able absorb the costs of such a levy, which would redistribute funds back to the communities from which retailers were making their profits.
Whether Trading Board was the correct forum to consider the issue, given this was primarily a local taxation issue, rather than a business opportunity.
Whether any such levy should apply to “local” smaller scale supermarkets.
How and by whom funds generated by such a levy should be administered and how funds raised by a levy could be used to support town centre retailers.
The need to support small retailers, given the role they played in supporting the most disadvantaged sections of the local community.
Whilst major retailers brought benefits to communities in terms of employment, they also caused problems in terms of issues such as congestion.
The impact of the levy on suppliers and the possibility that large retailers would seek to respond to the levy by driving down the costs of goods from suppliers.
The need for more detailed information before any final decision was made.
The levy would apply to all large scale retailers and was not just aimed at supermarkets.
Alternative methods could be used to achieve the same result, such as more sophisticated use of business rates or through initiatives such as Business Improvement Districts.
That a group of local councils were formally asking the government to authorise the introduction of such a levy and that it would be sensible to await developments.

Following its discussion the Board considered that the issue should be referred to Cabinet in order for Cabinet to take any action it considered necessary.  Ian Vipond, Strategic Director, Commercial and Place, noted a  request that further information be submitted to Cabinet when it considered the issue but explained that, given the preliminary nature of the proposals it was unlikely that any further detailed information could be provided at this stage

RESOLVED that the issue of the “supermarket levy” be referred to Cabinet to consider and take any action that it considered necessary.

For action by: Democratic Services Officer
Target Date: August 2014

See report by the Assistant Chief Executive.
13
RESOLVED that the work programme for the Trading Board 2014-15 be noted.

9 Exclusion of the Public (not Scrutiny or Executive)
In accordance with Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 to exclude the public, including the press, from the meeting so that any items containing exempt information (for example confidential personal, financial or legal advice), in Part B of this agenda (printed on yellow paper) can be decided. (Exempt information is defined in Section 100I and Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972).
Part B
10 Minutes of meeting 18 June 14 not for publication extract
  • This report is not for publication by virtue of paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972 (financial / business affairs of a particular person, including the authority holding information).
11 Commercial Business Development - Community Alarms
  • This report is not for publication by virtue of paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972 (financial / business affairs of a particular person, including the authority holding information).
12 Commercial Business Development - Monitoring/CCTV
  • This report is not for publication by virtue of paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972 (financial / business affairs of a particular person, including the authority holding information).
13 Commercial Business Development - Bereavement Services
  • This report is not for publication by virtue of paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972 (financial / business affairs of a particular person, including the authority holding information).
14 Commercial Business Development - Building Control
  • This report is not for publication by virtue of paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972 (financial / business affairs of a particular person, including the authority holding information).
15 Procurement Savings
  • This report is not for publication by virtue of paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972 (financial / business affairs of a particular person, including the authority holding information).

Meeting Documents

There are no separate meeting documents but there may be meeting documents assigned to the Agenda.

Declarations of Interests

Visitors

Also in attendance were Councillors Liddy, Quince, Smith and Turrell.