Published: March 27, 2010
Angry Burnham cider makers back campaign to fight 10% duty hike

Angry cider makers across the Burnham-On-Sea area are backing several online campaigns to make the Chancellor re-think his increase on cider duty announced in the Budget.

John Harris of West Croft Cider in Brent Knoll, pictured above, is among many local cider makers who are furious that Alistair Darling has decided cider duty will soar by 10% above the rate of inflation.

An online petition has been launched on the official Number 10 website here demanding that the Prime Minister reduce the level of taxation - and a separate Facebook protest has been started here to get The Wurzels' song 'I Am A Cider Drinker' to number one in the pop charts.

Mr Harris told on Saturday (March 27th): "We'd been expecting cider duty to rise by 1-2 per cent over the next couple of years, but 10 per cent is just ridiculous. It will hurt small cider producers like us a great deal."

"I don't see why small businesses in Somerset who provide valuable local jobs and produce such a traditional product should be helping the government in the wake of the city banking crisis."

"I support the online petition and hope the Wurzels get to number one to make the government sit up and take notice. There is a lot of concern about this locally."

Burnham-On-Sea's MP has also opposed the duty increase.

David Heathcoat-Amory told "Cider making is an important industry in my constituency. It employs many local people and I greatly value these firms, of which Gaymer is the largest."

"Of course we must try and prevent irresponsible drinking and there is a case for looking at certain high strength drinks which are often sold in supermarkets, but this general increase in cider duty is not justified and I will be speaking against this in the House of Commons next week."

Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman Jeremy Browne, who is also the MP for Taunton, said the government's plan was "wrong" and would damage small businesses unfairly.

Mr Darling said after his controversial Budget that he is bringing the taxation level into line with that levied on beer. It would take effect from March March 29th and generate an extra £30m for the Treasury.


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