The Powys Tax Rebellion

“I will find you and your money” announced Chancellor George Osbourne in 2011. He was speaking after negotiations with Swiss Banks about tackling tax avoidance. Tory millionaire Osbourne claimed that “Tax avoidance is morally repugnant.”

Of course he didn’t mean it.  Because while the most vulnerable in society are suffering massive cuts to their incomes, multinational corporate giants are still getting away with billions in unpaid tax.

According to Tax Research UK we lose out on over £120bn in tax each year, enough to clear the deficit that politicians keep banging on about. Companies like Asda, Google, Apple, eBay, Starbucks and Vodaphone pay minimal tax on their massive UK profits. Cafe Nero hasn’t paid any UK corporation tax since 2008!

All this tax avoidance is done legally using loopholes that allow companies to divert their money to other countries where tax levels are much lower. Successive governments have failed to close these loopholes preferring to blame the unemployed, refugees and the EU for our financial situation.

Now a group of Independent traders in Crickhowell have found another way to force politicians to act.  The group which includes the local coffee shop, bakery, optician, and book shop are exploiting the same tax loopholes by moving the town ‘offshore’.

“We were shocked to discover that the revenue generated by hard-working employees in these British high street chains isn’t declared”. Said Jo Carthew who runs Black Mountain Smokery in the town,” We do want to pay our taxes because we all use local schools and hospitals but we want a change of law so everyone pays their fair share.”

“Until now, these complicated offshore tricks have only been open to big companies who can afford the lawyers’ fees. But we’ve put our heads together, and worked out a way to mimic them.”

Everything the traders have proposed is legal and they have met with HMRC to discuss their plans.

Coffee shop owner Steve said “I have always paid every penny of tax I owe, and I don’t object to that. What I object to is paying my full tax when my big name competitors are doing the damnedest to dodge theirs.”

One of the town’s traders discovered that he paid seven times more in corporation tax than Facebook, which paid less than £5,000 in the UK last year!

They hope that their DIY tax avoidance scheme could go national and force politicians to act.

The story of the Powys tax rebellion is to be covered in a BBC documentary to be aired in early 2016.

Luther Blissett

 

Herefordshire Supports Refugees

In September this year the Hereford Times ran an online poll asking whether Herefordshire Council should accept 10 refugee families.

The result of the poll and the comments that were left on the Times’ website and Facebook page were truly depressing. They painted a picture of a county full of misinformed bigots with no sympathy for those far worse off than themselves. Many comments were racist and offensive, most were removed. The result of the poll was overwhelmingly against helping the refugees.

Three months on and the picture couldn’t be more different. Many grass roots organisations across the county are now working directly with those 6000 desperate people who are stuck in Calais. Our faith in people has been restored.

Groups are now working in Ross, Ledbury, Leominster, Bromyard and Hereford offering practical support and assistance. The collection of food, clothing and other essentials are being collected and taken directly to France. Ross for Refugees has even assisted in the construction of a school for those children currently living in Calais.

But with cold weather fast approaching the need has never been greater to get involved or help in any way possible.

Please find below links to groups who are helping the refugees. Please contact them to find out what donations they are accepting –

Ross for Refugees

Food Parcels for Calais, Hereford Group

Ledbury Refugee Support

Priory Church Leominster 01568 610785 or text 07790 762138

Please comment below if you know of other groups accepting donations.

Luther Blissett

Herefordshire gets Sett for Badger Cull

Hundreds of people marched through Hereford at the end of November to raise awareness of the controversial badger cull coming to the ‘shire.

The government, with backing from the National Farmers Union (NFU), believe that shooting large numbers of badgers will reduce the incidence of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in cattle and its associated costs to the farming industry.

Pilot culls, which have already taken place in Somerset, Gloucestershire and Dorset, have proven to be an expensive failure. Analysis of the pilots by DEFRA, as well as a panel of independent experts, found a cost of £3,300 for each badger killed.

Evidence showed that the culls were ineffective and could even result in an increase in bTB. The pilot culls were also found to be inhumane with many badgers taking longer than 5 minutes to die.

Unfortunately the lobbying power of the NFU is so strong that the Tory government will do anything to keep their support, even when evidence proves that culls don’t work. And so they plan to extend the cull to Herefordshire.

Not all farmers are convinced by the NFU policy though. A Herefordshire beef farmer who wished to remain anonymous told the Heckler that farmers should do more to reduce bTB before blaming badgers.

“The cost to farmers from bTB is massive and threatens livelihoods but many farmers aren’t helping themselves. TB infected cows should always be quarantined but often aren’t. Water troughs should be cleaned and put out of the reach of badgers but basic bio-security is not a priority to some farmers. On top of that we have a huge problem of lameness in the national herd making cows susceptible to all sorts of illness.”

This point of view is unpopular with the Government and NFU who’d rather paint those opposed to the cull as ‘extremists’.

Anyone who took part in the march through Hereford would have seen a diverse group of people brought together in opposition to the scapegoating of badgers.

Organisers of the march hope that people will join them to lawfully and peaceful protest to stop the cull. Herefordshire Badger Group will be coordinating efforts to oppose the cull.

Luther Blissett

Hereford Badger Group http://herefordshirebadgergroup.uk/

Photo courtesy of Simon Gardener

 

Hereford Roller Girls go from strength to strength

It’s been a very busy summer for Hereford Roller Girls. In August the Herefordshire based Roller Derby league celebrated its 3rd Birthday with a quiz night hosted by Leon from Bar Wars. There was more to come later in the summer, when the A Team the Horror Bulls beat South Wales Reaper Roller Girls 363 to 58 points. The game was part of the group stage for the Heartland Series Tournament, and the Horror Bulls became the first team to qualify for the 2014 Finals Weekend!

The A Team remains undefeated in 2014 and recently moved up to 70th place in the European Roller Derby Rankings (out of over 350 teams). The game against Reaper Roller Girls was the Horror Bulls first UKRDA (United Kingdom Roller Derby Association) sanctioned bout and saw the Bulls enter the UK Rankings at an impressive 13th place, out of 37.

The summer has also seen the league grow in numbers, with the September intake full of fresh new skaters and a brand new B Team the Terror Bulls. The Terror Bulls played their first closed door game in September, the scores from the game won’t be released, but there will be plenty more to come from these Bulls! All of this hard work has not gone unnoticed, in February the Horror Bulls were named ‘Senior Team of the Year’ at the Herefordshire Sport Awards 2013, and this Autumn they have been shortlisted for ‘Community Club of the Year’ at the Herefordshire & Worcestershire Sport Awards 2014. Horror Bulls Captain Becce Turner has also been shortlisted for ‘Senior Sportswoman of the Year’.

The future looks to be just as busy for the skaters and officials. The Horror Bulls next game is at home against Birmingham Blitz B Team on 2nd November (more details on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1538472699717395). It’s the last home game of the season, and will be a nice warm up for the Heartland Finals. It’s not often HRG play at home, so it’s the perfect opportunity to see them in action!

Next year brings a new challenge for the Horror Bulls, they have been invited to take part in a tournament in Caen, France. Hereford are the only UK team to be invited to compete and this will be their first international trip together. The tournament is in January and the Bulls are currently fundraising for the trip. There will also be a punk benefit at the Jailhouse ‘Night of the Living Shred 2’ on 31st October, with hardcore punk from bands such as Brain Wreck, Fetus Christ and Skinhorse – this will be a Halloween you won’t forget!

There’s another fundraising event later in the year, with a quiz night at Hereford City Sports Club on the 29th November, they’ll be more details to come soon, visit www.herefordrollergirls.co.uk to find out about this and other upcoming events.

R2-Dee2

 

Bulls fans to protest at TV game next Wednesday

A statement from Hereford United Supporters Trust

The Hereford United Supporters Trust fully support and endorse a peaceful protest to take place by Hereford United fans next Wednesday, October 8th, at Aggborough when Kidderminster Harriers take on Welling United in a Conference Premier match televised on BT Sport.

Following on from a fan suggestion, HUST spoke to their counterparts with the Kidderminster Harriers Independent Supporters Trust and, after approval of the Kidderminster Board of Directors, and from the police and local safety group, it has been agreed that Bulls fans will be allocated the away terrace (South Stand) at Aggborough for the match.

Bulls fans will take part in a peaceful protest bringing attention to the current situation at Hereford United that sees dozens of former employees still without pay and basic tax documentation from their time working for the club – money that was supposedly demanded by the Southern League to be paid before the club kicked off the season – while banned owner Tommy Agombar remains heavily involved at the club despite failing the Owners and Directors Test.

The game takes place on Wednesday, October 8th, kicking off at 7.45pm.

Hereford United Supporters Trust

1st October 2014.

Click here to book a seat on the coach