Online shopping giant Amazon has been branded "a parasite'" by a prominent politician.
Green Party leader Natalie Bennett was speaking on a visit to Sunderland, ahead of Small Business Saturday, aimed at supporting independent retailers.
"If you think of all of those many thousands of deliveries, especially at this time of year in the run up to Christmas. All of those deliveries are pounding along our roads, and taking their toll.
"And yet Amazon is paying no tax towards the upkeep of that road - you all are, they're not. They're simply making a profit and not paying back.
"They are a parasite, particularly on cities like Sunderland."
Ms Bennett was speaking at the National Glass Centre in Sunderland, where she gave a talk and held a question-and-answer session as part of her tour of the North East.
The Australian-born politician said she wanted to see a move away from "shiny shopping centres" and chain stores, with more support for small businesses, independent shops and cooperatives.
Ms Bennett said the UK economy had become heavily built on retail, and big chain retailers where staff were paid minimum wage and often on zero-hours contracts, with little chance of progression.
"You have store managers earning maybe a pound per hour more than the rest of the staff, who are on minimum wage," she said.
"What they have done is replaces lots of small businesses, independent businesses. And if you spend money in independent businesses, about 50p in the pound stays here in Sunderland.
"But if you spend money in a big retailer, it's something like only a few pennies in the pound."
Amazon is planning to set up shop in Sunderland, creating a delivery station in Cherry Blossom Way, Washington, and is working with nine delivery firms which will be hiring around 200 drivers.
The company has come under fire in recent years, however, over its employment practices, treatment of workers and tax arrangement.