THE leader of Bolton Council has said he does not support calls for a so-called “Tesco tax”, which would give local authorities powers to charge a levy on large supermarkets.

Cllr Cliff Morris made his comments after 20 councils across the UK asked the government to consider giving them the power to impose an extra tax on supermarkets to help out smaller shops and local communities.

The campaign, led by Derby City Council, was not backed by Bolton Council.

Cllr Morris said the timing was not right for such a measure.

He said: “We would look at any kind of tax-raising powers, but it’s like everything else — it’s about getting that balance right and I don’t think this is something at this stage we would consider.

“Further down the line, if the government continues on its path of deep cuts, then who knows?

“We have got to be mindful of the people who shop in these places, and what we don’t want to do is put an extra burned on their standard of living.

“I agree that super-markets should look after the local community and they should be very community-minded, but at this stage I am on the side of the shoppers.”

The government has said extra taxes on supermarkets would push up food prices.

A similar tax scheme is already in place in Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Businesses in Little Lever have expressed fears that the planned new Tesco superstore there could take shoppers away from the village centre.

Michael Howarth, owner of Howarth Jewellers in Market Street, next to the existing Tesco Metro, said independent businesses could be killed off by the bigger supermarkets and supported calls for an extra levy.

He said: “It’s going to take all the trade out of Little Lever. How are we going to get customers through the door when they are being taken away from our door?

“Now instead of people going to the Tesco Metro they will be in their cars, parking up at the new supermarket and out of the village centre.”