Councillors in Dover are today discussing whether to levy supermarkets and other large stores with additional taxes.  

Speaking to the BBC ahead of the debate, Labour councillor Peter Wallace said the levy could raise an estimated £1m a year that could fund free parking in town centres or cut small shops’ rates.

The 2007 Sustainable Communities Act gives local authorities the power to introduce a local levy of 8.5% of the rate on large retail outlets in their area with a rateable value of not less than £500,000.

The Act requires the levy’s revenue to be retained by the local authority and put towards “improving local economic activity, local services and facilities, social and community well-being and environmental protection”.

“The shops in the high street close at about five or six in the afternoon, where supermarkets can stay open 24 hours,” Wallace said.

“They’ve got internet shopping as well which local shops can’t afford. The idea of a new tax is a scary thing but supermarkets can really afford to pay it.”

A further six councils in England were currently investigating similar proposals, he added.

The idea was rejected last month by councils in Bristol and Gloucestershire.