The sticky stand off

Dongria Kondh with Patrick Topham at Boots in Crown Street, Hebden Bridge
Dongria Kondh with Patrick Topham at Boots in Crown Street, Hebden Bridge

GLUING her hand to a display in Boots on Crown Street is how one protester showed her discontent at what she claims is tax avoidance by the high street giant.

Hebden Bridge protester Dongria Kondh, who was formerly known as Penny Eastwood, joined others in asking shoppers to boycott the pharmacy in the run up to Christmas.

Dongria, who asked to speak to the regional manager about £86 million she believes Boots has avoided paying because of a tax loophole, said: “Obviously people will have to get their prescriptions here but when they are thinking of buying Christmas presents or other items we’re asking them to support the Totally Locally Campaign.

“We have no complaint against the Boots staff, it’s just the greedy people at the top. Britain doesn’t have a deficit crisis – it has a taxation avoidance crisis, and if we can’t trust our leaders to sort the situation out we will have to do it ourselves.

“Hopefully this protest will continue throughout December, and we encourage anyone concerned about these issues to get involved. Protest outside Boots’s at 9am every Wednesday until Christmas.”

Boots UK has defended its position and a spokesperson said that it is a “VAT registered company which complies fully with the UK tax laws”.

The spokesperson said: “We can confirm that Boots in Hebden Bridge continued to trade as normal on Wednesday December 2 despite some disruption in store.

“As a pharmacy we’re committed to continue to offer a dispensing service to our patients and it is our main priority to always ensure our patients receive the medications they need. The store team have done all they can to ensure that customer service is not disrupted.

“We understand the depth of feeling surrounding the Government’s planned spending cuts, but would like to take this opportunity to reiterate that in terms of Boots in the UK, we still have our headquarters in the UK and we’re also committed to the local communities where our UK offices are based and many of the local population are employed across these sites.”

Dongria was joined by three other protesters who gave out leaflets and held up placards, including, Patrick Topham. Mr Topham said that he feared for his chances of going to university because of the government spending cuts and what he perceives as tax avoidance by Boots.