Protests over council cuts and tax-dodging

Some of the protestors outside BHS
Some of the protestors outside BHS
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JUST days after Hastings was told it would fall foul of the joint biggest cut in council funding, protesters to took the streets to make their feelings known.

As revealed in last week’s Observer, Hastings Borough Council will have to cope with a funding drop of more than 30 per cent over the next two years.

And the leader of the council, Jeremy Birch, warned it would only get worse after that, with Hastings, he claimed, “now in the Premier League of council cuts.”

That was on Friday and just 24 hours later more than 30 people were camped out in the town centre, waving placards and demonstrating against the cut backs.

Organised by lobbyists UK Uncut alongside 55 similar events nationwide, the local show of anger targeted a string of shops which protesters argue are dodging tax payments.

Despite the snow and sleet which put off many shoppers, the campaigners protested outside Vodafone and a host of stores owned by the Arcadia Group.

One of the angry locals who gathered was Charlotte Potter, who told the Observer: “We can’t afford to lose jobs and services in Hastings.

“We pay our taxes but big business doesn’t.

“We want to show that there is an alternative to the cuts: shutting down tax loopholes so that the super-rich pay their fair share.”

A spokesmam for the organisers argued that a string of multi-national firms were using

tax-avoidance techniques to get out of stumping up bumper bills.

One example is the multi-millionaire Philip green who runs the Arcadia Group but registers his companies in his wife’s name in Monaco - thus benefiting from a 0 per cent income tax rate.

Tax-avoidance is completely legal in the UK, but campaigners want the Government to put a stop to it in the near future.

Local activists and students were joined at the protests outside Topshop, BHS and Dorothy Perkins by a handful of first-time protesters up in arms over the council funding crash.

One of those, Lucinda Wells, said: “I’ve never before felt the urge to publicly protest, but these cuts are going to affect every single one of us. It makes me really angry.”