Southwold made the national press & BBC & ITV News shows this week as the community-led ‘Say No To Costa’ campaign drew accusations of snobbery. But what’s the truth behind the campaign? Is Southwold filled with snobs who demand a higher class of cappucino, or with impassioned locals working hard to protect independent shops?
Responding to an online comment that read ‘Southwold has long been the preserve of weekender Range Rover-driving, Hunter boots-wearing city types,’ campaign organiser Professor Michael Rowan-Robinson told the Daily Telegraph: ‘These comments are just atrocious. Atrocious! We’re not like that at all – take a look around for yourself.’
The campaign’s secretary, John Perkins, explained further: ‘It’s ridiculous to say not wanting a Costa is a question of class – it’s a question of common sense. Tourism keeps Southwold afloat and the tourists come for the nice, privately owned shops that make our high street unique. If a Costa opens, those shops will be put at risk.’
Southwold’s fiercely independent retail sector has always been seen as one of the town’s biggest strengths, attracting tourists and inspiring books like Alan Childs’ Perfect Southwold, which celebrates the town’s singular charms.
With the recent loss of the town’s last remaining independent bookshop it’s no wonder that residents are concerned that Southwold’s unique high street is under threat. But will a Southwold Costa coffee shop really affect the town’s cafes and coffee shops? We’d love to hear what you think, so let us know your views in the comment pages.