BAKERS in York campaigning against the “pasty tax” outlined in the Budget are urging customers to sign petitions to be delivered to Downing Street.

Thousands of York people have already signed petitions launched by Cooplands, Thomas the Baker and Greggs against Government plans to add 20 per cent VAT to the price of hot savoury food from October.

Chancellor George Osborne has said all food sold “above ambient temperature” should be liable for VAT.

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Ryedale-based Thomas the Baker – which has branches in Lendal, Tang Hall and Bishopthorpe Road – has slammed the tax, describing it as “impossible to police” and claiming it will damage the trade.

Simon Thomas, Thomas the Baker’s general manager, said: “As many of our loyal customers know, if you arrive at one of our shops just as the sausage rolls are coming out of the oven, they will be hot.

"However, if you arrive half an hour later that same product will be cold. So who will determine if that product has dropped below ‘ambient’, and whether or not to charge VAT on it?

“If you are behind the last person in the lunchtime queue who just purchased an ‘ambient’ pasty without VAT, and then you buy a freshly-baked pasty just as it comes out of the oven, you will be charged 20 per cent more than the person in front of you. We will find this situation impossible to police.”

Thomas’s are likely to lose trade should the plans go ahead, and smaller operations, such as the baker’s supplier, butcher Brian Thompson, in Helmsley, could also lose trade.

Meanwhile, Cooplands – which has branches in Bridge Street, Davygate and York Road in Acomb – said it has already collected more than a thousand signatures and had received a “brilliant response” to the campaign from customers.

Greggs, which has branches in Church Street, Pavement, Coney Street, Jubbergate and Acomb, has also got petitions in all of its stores.

Former deputy prime minister John Prescott has backed the local bakers’ campaign against the tax, describing it as “a kick in the teeth to bakers.”