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Tax protests at 50 Starbucks stores

Anti tax avoidance activists staged protests at more than 50 Starbucks stores today to complain about the coffee chain's tax arrangements.

UK Uncut said it was the most widespread day of action it had ever held, showing the depth of anger at the scale of tax avoidance by some large companies.

The demonstrations went ahead in cities including Glasgow, London, Belfast, Liverpool, Sheffield and Portsmouth even though the US giant announced changes to its tax payments

UK Uncut described today's protests as their biggest ever national day of action, with sit-ins staged in places such as Aberdeen, Belfast and Cornwall.

Starbucks said it expects to pay around £10 million in UK corporation tax for each of the next two years, following the revelation that it paid just £8.6 million in 14 years of trading in Britain and nothing in the last three years.

UK Uncut said it had "transformed" Starbucks stores into refuges, crhches and homeless shelters to highlight the tax issues as well as the effect of Government cuts on women.

There was a police presence at many of the protests, with some of the demonstrators told to report to a police station within seven days. There were two arrests in London.

A UK Uncut spokesman said: "It has been an overwhelming success, sending a clear message to the government as well as to huge corporations."

One store in Vigo Street, central London, was occupied by protesters at 12pm and then temporarily closed.

Dozens of activists chanted and waved placards and banners outside, shutting off the street to traffic under the gaze of the police.

The store was transformed into a domestic violence refuge as the protest sought to highlight the "disproportionate" effect that the coalition's cuts to the public sector are having on women.

Lisa Stewart, a 30-year-old UK Uncut activist, said: "Women are bearing the brunt of these cuts, and if they (the Government) made tax-dodgers like Starbucks pay that would bring in £25 billion a year.

"Think of all the spending cuts that we could cover with that.

"Today we are standing up for the women's services we refuse to see destroyed."

Ms Stewart said the reaction from customers inside the store had been positive, adding: "There is lots of anger out there and people realise they are being lied to."

Anna Walker, an activist who took part in a sit-in at a Starbucks in Conduit Street, central London, said: "We demand that the Government takes urgent radical action on tax avoidance, rather than cutting the welfare state, childcare benefits, maternity benefits and housing benefits while dismantling the NHS.

"These cuts are having a massive, devastating impact on women's lives today."

Ms Walker said 100 people had taken part in the Conduit Street action, which saw activists try to transform the store into a creche.

"Unfortunately the police did walk in and say everybody was going to be arrested if they didn't leave after only five minutes, so we weren't able to set up our creche she said.

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