Traders oppose bag tax

TRADERS in the town have organised a petition opposing the introduction of a levy on the use of carrier bags.

The tax, which was introduced by Sinn Fein’s Daithi McKay, has been slammed by retailers across Northern Ireland, who say it could drive customers away from the High Street.

Charles Gardiner, chair of Lurgan Chamber of Trade, said the town’s business community are united in opposition to the tax.

“Concerns were brought to our attention by one of our members,” said Mr Gardiner.

“We made representations to all six of our MLAs.

“Dolores Kelly and Sam Gardiner were the only ones who replied to us, and they were both very supportive.”

He continued: “While we agree with a tax on plastic bags, we oppose the levy on all single use carrier bags.

“It is unfair to shops which already use environmentally friendly bags.

If the levy was similar to that which is being imposed in the south and in Wales, we would be happy enough.”

He added: “It is not a well thought-out piece of legislation.”

SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly called for local traders to be given the opportunity to voice their opposition to the tax.

She said: “The SDLP has a manifesto commitment to introduce a plastic bags levy, the aim of which should be about making a major positive contribution to the environment rather than yielding massive amounts of revenue.

“However, towards the end of the last mandate, Sinn Fein introduced a Plastic Bags Levy Bill, which we questioned on several grounds, most importantly that the views of the packaging, retail and other industries were not sought or given serious consideration because the Sinn Fein bill was to be fast-tracked through the Assembly.

“This was not good government in our view, as it denied industry experts and the wider public an important chance to put all arguments on the table for decision makers.”