Taxpayers Union angry at retailer cash hand out

MoneyMultinational fast-food brands are among retailers who have been given cash by the Upper Hutt City Council to encourage them to open shops in the city, a move which has drawn criticism from the Taxpayers Union.

In a statement Monday, the union says the council spent more than $160,000 of ratepayers’ money on subsidies to 11 businesses, including hairdressers, retailers, fast food joints and a contracting firm.

Taxpayers Union executive director, Jordan Williams, says the latest revelation comes on top of a $32,000 Business Development Support grant given to listed fast-food chain BurgerFuel to set up shop in the city last June.

“Now we can reveal that Subway, a hairdresser, a cinema and even a Bed Bath and Beyond also received ratepayer-funded grants,” said Williams.

“Taxing people more through rates for corporate welfare isn’t economic development, it is economic trickery benefiting only the favoured businesses. Take the example of Prodigy Hair. There are at least 29 hairdressing firms in Upper Hutt, but the council picks this one out for a handout.

“Previously the council has defended this corporate welfare scheme on the basis that the council is creating jobs. Of course the politicians and officials ignore that every cent is drained from the very community they are claiming to help. It is intellectually dishonest.”

The union has released a list of companies to receive the grants. They are:
* Subway Main Street
* Maidstone Sports (The Mall HCSC Ltd)
* Vogue on Geange
* Vogue (The Mall HCSC Ltd)
* Bed Bath Beyond (The Mall HCSC Ltd)
* Udy Contracting
* Blue Pencil
* Prodigy Hair
* BurgerFuel
* Miro Cinema
* Fets (Fire and Emergency Training Solutions)

The union says the Upper Hutt City Council refused to divulge how much funding each firm received.

“Upper Hutt ratepayers are smart enough to see that this isn’t economic development, it’s robbing the poor to pay the rich,” said Williams.

“The Mayor, Wayne Guppy, needs to explain how sucking money out of a community to spend it on a favoured business is justified.”

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