AN anti-‘pasty tax’ petition collected in and around South Tyneside has been handed in to the heart of government.
Chancellor George Osborne is now in receipt of the 7,000-name protest by customers of South Shields firm MI Dickson, which was raised with support from the Gazette.
And he is expected to issue a response within weeks, as the clamour to scrap a VAT hike on some hot food grows.
The petition was sent to him by South Shields MP David Miliband, who has backed Dicksons’ campaign against the Government’s proposals.
Mr Miliband took receipt of it last week from Dicksons bosses, who are keen to ensure their voice is heard in what has fast become a national debate.
It joins a huge 500,000-strong petition handed in to Downing Street on Thursday by bakers from across the country.
A spokesman for Mr Miliband said: “It is with Mr Osborne at the Treasury now.
“We have asked him for a reply. It would be usual to expect that reply within about four weeks.
“David hopes the Chancellor will listen to the strength of feeling against this tax, and scrap it.”
Dicksons, established in South Shields in 1953, has 22 North East outlets, including eight in South Tyneside.
It has condemned the planned VAT rise on freshly-cooked food which is kept warm, announced by Mr Osborne in last month’s Budget.
He claims it will remove an anomaly whereby hot food takeaways, such as fish and chip shops, have to charge VAT, while bakers avoid it.
The baking industry claims the move could lead to job cuts and falling sales.
The Gazette also threw its weight behind Dicksons, which employs about 250 people, by backing the petition.
Elena Dickson, Dicksons’ marketing manager, said: “We are pleased that our petition is now with the Chancellor.
“I hope he will recognise the strength of feeling against his plans and re-think them.
“To get so many signatures in a relatively small geographical area is very significant indeed.”