Costa told free drinks plan in Southwold would be “unfair”

OFF LIMITS: Costa Coffee's request to hand out iced drinks at Gun Hill in Southwold was refused.pict

OFF LIMITS: Costa Coffee's request to hand out iced drinks at Gun Hill in Southwold was refused.picture: LIBRARY - Credit: ECN

A national coffee chain has been denied permission to hand out free samples in Southwold, amid concerns the promotion would be 'inappropriate' and 'unfair' to other businesses.

Cost Coffee approached Waveney District Council seeking approval to bring its Ice Cold Tour van to Gun Hill on the seafront, where it planned to give away iced coffee drinks.

Sue Allen and Michael Ladd, who are both district and town councillors, opposed the request when they were consulted by Waveney's events team and the application was refused.

Speaking at a recent Southwold Town Council meeting, Mrs Allen said: 'Councillor Ladd and I had an email from the events people at Waveney District Council asking what our thoughts were on Costa Coffee having promotions about their iced coffee on Gun Hill. We both thought it was inappropriate and 'it is not going to happen'.'

Costa faced strong local opposition when it announced plans to open a new café in Southwold High Street last year. The town council and more than 600 people objected to its application to take over the former Fanny & Frank clothes shop amid concerns it could harm the town's 'unique character'. Despite this, its plans were given the go-ahead by Waveney's development control committee last August and it opened in February.

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John Perkins, of the Southwold and Reydon Society, said he felt it was the correct decision to refuse permission for the giveaway.

He said: 'They would have been handing out free samples right by Gun Hill Café, which is a locally-run business. In fact, there are several cafes along the front. If they had been allowed to go ahead with this promotion it would have been below the belt.

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'One of the reasons we campaigned against Costa is the effect it would have on local business. If we let them run a promotion within throwing distance of cafes then how fair is that?'

Mayor of Southwold Simon Tobin said: 'We operate a level playing field for all the businesses in the town and it would be inappropriate to allow one particular company to have an unfair advantage.'

Mr Ladd added: 'My feeling is that they should keep their promotion within their shop like other retailers.'

A Costa Coffee spokesman said its promotions team had been travelling the UK this summer to hand out free samples. She added: 'The Costa Ice Cold Tour team reviewed a number of locations to take the tour to and Southwold was raised as a potential destination for this activity.

'After several discussions between Southwold Town Council and the Costa Ice Cold team, the decision was taken to withdraw the application.

'We were disappointed that we couldn't bring Southwold some fun and free refreshments on this occasion.'

A Waveney spokesman said: 'We can confirm Waveney District Council received an application, through their agent, for Costa Coffee to hold an event in Southwold. As with all events of this nature, we went out to consultation with our partners, including the police, NORSE and Southwold Town Council. The feedback we received from the town council was that they did not think the event in this format would be appropriate at this time. However, they agreed to continue discussions with Costa Coffee about staging a more appropriate event, perhaps linked to a larger event being staged in the town. The town council's contact details were passed to the agent to allow discussions to take place between Costa Coffee and the town council about staging an event in the future.'

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