October 12, 2016

Kent Live: A Tunbridge Wells trader who claims his business is at risk because of a proposed ‘sugar tax’ on fizzy drinks, is urging customers to fight the government plans.

Read the original article here, published on Kent Live on 12th October 2016.

Newsagent Neil Bradford says if the new tax is introduced he and dozens of other small independent stores across Kent could be driven out of business.

The tax is part of a government initiative to tackle obesity but opponents say it penalises the wrong people. A public consultation on the levy closes this Friday (October 14).

Mr Bradford, 49, who only took over the Monson Road newsagents, Monson News in April, sinking his life savings into the venture, said:

“Why do they not reduce the sugar in drinks – do it at source – not take it out on the people who are just trying to make a living out of it.”

The father-of-three said he sold around 200 soft drink bottles a week with the trade making up a substantial part of his income.

“It is a big part of my business,” he added.

“I am constantly restocking. But this tax could mean 58p on a bottle bringing it up to £1.60 and I just don’t know whether anyone will buy.”

Former postman Mr Bradford said his campaign had been well supported by customers with a pile of support postcards disappearing from the shop counter.

“This is my first venture – and I have sunk everything I had into it. I sold my home in Five Oak Green to set it up. Everything I have, I have sunk into it – for me and my family. But this tax could have a serious impact,” he added.

Chancellor George Osborne announced plans for a soft drinks levy in his March budget which new prime minister Theresa May says she supports.

But the charge, which is unlikely to become law until 2018, is being opposed by the National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN) which claims it will devastate the industry and fail to tackle obesity.