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We are no snobs argue Southwold residents over coffee shop row

PUBLISHED: 14:59 14 June 2012 | UPDATED: 16:26 14 June 2012

Chairman of the Southwold Chamber of Trade, Guy Mitchell. Launch of new Southwold shop local campaign My Southwold.

Chairman of the Southwold Chamber of Trade, Guy Mitchell. Launch of new Southwold shop local campaign My Southwold.

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A SUFFOLK town has hit back at accusations of elitism after a campaign to prevent a national coffee chain moving on to the high street was labelled "snobby".

Dozens of letters had been sent to Southwold Town Council objecting to the impending arrival of Costa Coffee on the main shopping street.

But some have since taken public issue with the “Say No To Costa Coffee” campaign, voicing their disagreement online with comments like “Southwold has long been the preserve of weekender Range Rover-driving, Hunter boots-wearing city types,” and “God forbid that the town has something that might attract working‑class people.”

The campaign was dealt a blow earlier this week after it emerged district planning officers would be recommending support for the proposal by Costa to open a new branch at 70 High Street, formerly Fanny & Franks’ clothes shop.

And supporters have now been compelled to defend themselves against charges of snobbery.

Guy Mitchell, chairman of the Southwold Chamber of Trade and Commerce, said: “This is nonsense based on a few comments on the web – which is notorious for attracting extreme views. It detracts from a very serious issue facing towns across the country.

“We are dealing with an explosion of national chains intent on taking over our high streets and making them all appear the same.”

Southwold Town Council and other local organisations had also opposed the application, which would also allow Costa to sell food and drink.

The application will be discussed in public at a meeting of Waveney’s development control committee at 6pm on Tuesday, June 19, at Lowestoft Town Hall.

Resident’s views

Clare Hart, from Chapmans newsagents, said: “I think they’re missing the point. This is about independent shops being pushed out. Our customers have been horrified – that’s not who we are.”

John Perkins and Ridley Burnett, of the Southwold and Reydon Society, said the dispute was nothing to do with class. Mr Perkins added: “There are 20 outlets selling coffee on the high street - some operating on marginal profits. Imagine the impact the sudden arrival of a national chain will have. There are sound economic reasons for this campaign.”

Sisters Hester and Leti Mortimer said: This is not snobbery. Southwold is trying to remain independent and keep its charm.”

Guy Mitchell concluded: “Our Individuality is crucial for tourism and for the success of the local economy.”

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