A mayoral charity bash in a Northampton Starbucks is being snubbed by a handful of Labour group councillors over the US brand’s international tax affairs.
Recently installed mayor of Northampton, Councillor Christopher Malpas (Con, Billing) is set to host a “coffee and cake” afternoon at the Market Square branch of the franchise on Sunday, June 19.
The £10-a-ticket event is to raise money for his chosen charity, Guide Dogs Northampton.
But at least three Labour Councillors, including the group leader, have said they will not be attending out of principle, because of the Seattle based company’s alleged record for tax avoidance despite netting £1.2 billion of sales over the past three years.
Leader, Councillor Danielle Stone (Lab, Castle) says there is no party whip on not attending.
But on why she would not be attending, she said: “It’s the international brand we take issue with.
“I just think when businesses give to charities the focus should be on the charity not the business itself.
“Individual councillors are free to do what they like - I just think it needed saying.”
Councillor Arthur McCutcheon (Lab, Headlands) is also set to snub the event, though, like the group leader both say they will happily donate to Guide Dogs Northampton instead.
Councillor McCutcheon said: “Starbucks is in dispute with the HMRC, I really don’t think we should give recognition to that franchise until that is sorted out.”
There is no suggestion whatsoever that the Market Place branch of Starbucks, owned by businessman Nadim Choudary, has not paid taxes.
But the stance of some Labour members has split opinion in the local group.
Former mayor Councillor Les Marriott (Lab, Semilong) says he will be going to the event because the position of mayor is “non-political.”
He said: “To be fair this is something the local branch (of Starbucks) is supporting, I am not looking at this in any other way. I will certainly be supporting the mayor’s charity.”
The franchisee for the Market Square outlet is also brother to a Labour Councillor, Nazim Choudary (Lab, St Davids).
Councillor Malpas, whose own guide dog Verity has her own Twitter account, said he was disappointed by the snub.
He said: “It’s pure and simply a local businessman helping the mayor to support his charity, if I can’t give something back to the guide dogs, what can I do?”