Apocalyptic stories in the papers today. “Anger spilled onto the streets of Southwold after a national coffee chain was allowed to open in the town centre,” according to the East Anglian Daily Times.
“The locals of Totnes have gone to war,” says the Guardian.
Can the Costa riots be far away? In both towns there are loud campaigns against plans to open branches of Costa Coffee.
One of the pleasures of Southwold is that it is not filled with the same shopfronts as everywhere else. It is a long time since I have been to Totnes, Devon, but I recall another town centre worth exploring.
At the same time I do use Costa branches, although it is relegated if there is a branch of Caffé Nero around. Why choose one of these over-priced national chains before a locally-owned cafe when I am an unfamiliar town?
I guess I have had too many experiences of finding the the only other option is stale filter coffee. Or, if there is an espresso machine, asking for a cappuccino and getting something like a latte with froth. So I go for the familiar brand.
Sometimes there are local places that beat the national chains. In Woodbridge my choice is Browsers Bookshop ahead of the Cafe Nero, a few doors away, or the Costa a bit further on.
Given the the way the planning laws and free market work, probably the only thing that will keep the chains away is the prospect that they won’t make sufficient profit.
The rapid growth in the coffee shop market is underlined by Costa which contributed nearly a third of the Whitbread group’s £1,788 million sales in the 2011-12 financial year. They opened 332 new shops, more than half of them in the UK in the year.
This year they plan to open 350 new stores. Clearly there is a growing demand which can be met profitably despite the group having to refinance £441 million of debt in the last financial year.
Italian visitors to England are shocked at the price of a cup of coffee in England. Surely the way to keep the coffee chains out of high streets of towns like Southwold and Totnes is to have places that offer a similar experience at a lower price.
The way to keep out the chains of shops and restaurants must be to offer customers something better for their money.
Suffolk County Council has put the close of waste recycling sites on hold. Six sites were due to close next month, but faced with outrage from people across the county it is look for other ways of paying for them and the sites will operate as at present until July 31.
During this time the county will work with district and borough councils and Suffolk Communities to develop long-term solutions for the sites at Beccles, Bramford, Brome, Chelmondiston, Newmarket and Southwold (Press release). The Ingham site for which planning consent runs out will close as planned.
Lisa Chambers, Portfolio Holder for Waste, said:
We have made this decision in direct response to the views of Suffolk residents. I have personally attended 14 community meetings and the feedback has been very clear. People are telling me they are very willing to look at paying for the service rather than lose their site and would like more time to come up with new ways of working. District, parish and town councils have also asked for more time to look at alternative funding opportunities.
I believe it is important that we listen to feedback from communities and when possible act on that feedback. In this case that is what we have done.
Three ideas from the consultation are mentioned:
- District/parish council funding for sites
- Local recycling projects.
It is good news that the council is listening to the views of others. Let’s hope it marks the start of a change of approach in Endeavour House. Perphaps, they will also stop making firm announcements again before they have consulted others about their policies.