I write in reply to Mr Duffield’s concerns in the March 5 edition over the street surgery we had proposed to hold at Starbucks branch in Broadwater.
This was simply the latest in our popular programme of street surgeries for local people to bring issues and question me and local councillors on anything of concern. The new coffee shop had offered us the use of their premises just as they have done to lots of other local organisations.
However, in view of the sensitivities raised by Mr Duffield, we decided to switch the location to the parade of shops opposite and for over two hours, a steady stream of constituents were redirected and came to chat to us. Not one of them raised any complaint about Starbucks.
The staff had gone to a lot of trouble to publicise the event and they have also been very active in the community and supportive of local football teams and other good causes. Starbucks is also a franchise so the Broadwater shop is solely actually run by local businessmen Leon and Scarlett who have invested in this new venture, employ their own local staff and of course pay their taxes in the UK.
I have no truck with tax avoidance, which is why this Government has done more than any before in introducing anti-avoidance measures and will be doing yet more in next week’s Budget. As a result, billions of pounds left uncollected by previous governments have flowed into the Treasury. Among many others, Starbucks nationally will now be paying a much bigger tax bill and is apparently relocating its European headquarters to the UK. That is progress not achieved under previous governments.
As regards holding our street surgeries in other independent coffee shops, I would be delighted if any would like to invite us. As it is, we have already held surgeries nearby in St Stephens’s Church, East Worthing Community Centre and the Dominion Road Community House. Elsewhere in the constituency, our busiest regular spot is at Shoreham Farmers Market amidst all local British produce.
Local Conservative councillors work hard to provide a community service that few other politicians do, so this criticism really is misplaced. I hope Mr Duffield will agree that this issue has been something of a storm in a coffee cup!
MP for East Worthing and Shoreham
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