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'Euphoric victory' is celebrated as coffee giant admits defeat in Totnes

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: October 26, 2012

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A Devon town is celebrating a “euphoric victory” in a battle to prevent a national coffee chain opening on its High Street.

Costa Coffee withdrew plans to open a large shop in Totnes, despite being granted planning permission from South Hams District Council.

Thousands of people in the town, which prides itself on having independent shops, rallied behind a campaign against the coffee giant.

Totnes Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston, who feared the place would become a “clone town”, called on the coffee chain to reverse its plans to open in her constituency.

The decision was announced in a letter from Costa that was co-signed by Dr Wollaston and Totnes mayor Pruw Boswell, and addressed to “the people of Totnes”.

Costa managing director Chris Rogers admitted the company had “recognised the strength of feeling” against it.

Totnes boasts 41 independent coffee outlets and has established a “unique” reputation in the South West, with

a community of musicians, writers and therapists.

Mr Rogers said the decision had taken into account the “specific circumstances of Totnes” following discussion with groups in the town.

Dr Wollaston and Ms Boswell said in the letter: “As your MP and mayor, and speaking on behalf of the people of Totnes, we would like to thank Costa for being prepared to listen to our concerns and showing that they care.”

Dr Wollaston added: “Totnes has a strong tradition of independent shops, which is what makes the town unique.

“Costa should be applauded for being sensitive to the strength of local opinion.”

Mayor Boswell said: “This is a euphoric victory for Totnes. I want to pay tribute to ‘caring Costa’, to the hugely supportive Dr Wollaston, and to the community of team Totnes.”

Campaign group Notocosta spent several months petitioning against the plans.

It gathered support from 5,750 people in the town of 8,000, including award-winning author and former resident Joan Brady. Opponents had pledged to boycott the new branch.

Holly Tiffen, of the Notocosta campaign, said: “If Costa had arrived, it may have opened the floodgates for other chains. Costa didn’t realise what they had taken on here. It should send a very clear message to chain shops to think twice before doing the same elsewhere.”

Ian Gregory, owner of Fat Lemons vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free cafe in the town, said: “I am surprised by the decision because we thought it was a done deal. This battle shows that people power can influence a decision. Costa realised its place was not here.”

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  • cherrie54  |  October 29 2012, 2:33PM

    Saw you up the high street a little while ago reptor. T said to get him a pint. By the way don't forget the you know what.

  • reptor2456  |  October 27 2012, 6:22PM

    Cherri54 the tourist who comes here 3 times a year and think she owns the place. Yup typical over opinionated tourist.

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  • robocop1982  |  October 27 2012, 1:08AM

    I'm not a fan of chain stores but they likely create more jobs than private run independent businesses. Even independent stores are still a clone in many ways. FOr starters the building itself is similar to the next building i.e 4 walls and a roof and some tables and chairs. Its all the same at the end of the day whether it be independent stores or chain stores. the downside to corporations is they drive out local small businesses. Supermarkets are the best example of this. ITs all factories and chain stores these days. WOuldn't it be nice to see everybody be able to have their home as a bussiness or shops of some kind. People could run coffee shops or cafes from there home. Why are we ruled by greed mongers power hungry monsters? Why is one group of millions of people being ruled by a small group of people in parliament. there are more of us than there are them. we could rub them out if we stand together and fight them.

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  • omnivore23  |  October 26 2012, 5:59PM

    In my opinion, making the case for Costa on the basis of market forces ignores the increasing evidence that large multinationals are at an unfair advantage over the independents. In areas like the south west which are suffering as a result of the economic downturn many shops lie empty as local people have less to spend. Large corporates are much less sensitive to local conditions as not only do they have greater leverage and economies of scale, but losses in the short term can be more easily offset by profits for more affluent areas A good result - and not bad pr for Costa either now that Starbucks are pressing the touchyfeely buttons to try and ingratiate themselves with an increasingly skeptical public

  • cherrie54  |  October 26 2012, 3:31PM

    As an aside not a very good advert for costa coffee shops. Nicotine stained fingers, well chewed fingernails ,ingrained dirt in the fingernails ,dirty stained coffee cup. Please enlighten us as to which coffee shop this indivedual works in. Then we can avoid it.

  • cherrie54  |  October 26 2012, 3:21PM

    As said before totnes did well to keep a costa out. But I think it was more about competition to the existing coffee shops than keeping totnes individual. Totnes shops can not be said to be original or arty crafty ,very little is sold that is not mass produced or sold on any high street across the country. Small shops yes narrow street yes excentric people yes last haven for hippys yes. But original artistic original, therapthys never. As for the coffee shops there is only one that does not meet the norm. That one is more of a safe haven for 70s hippys than a coffee shop. Where do the figure of 41 coffee shops come from I wonder.

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  • reptor2456  |  October 26 2012, 2:43PM

    Typical Devonians.. Moan in the way of progress, then wonder why no one wants to holiday here anymore and there are a lack of jobs... Idiots.

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  • conundrum  |  October 26 2012, 2:27PM

    @Ant_ Thanks, please let as many people as possible know about the 'Green Benches' site. Hardly any of the information on it is ever taken up by the mainstream media, despite it all being a matter of public record. In this respect the media are failing dismally and so most people aren't aware of exactly how corrupt and destructive this Government is.

  • Ant__  |  October 26 2012, 1:08PM

    The Green Benches Site is an eye opener @conundrum. Thanks for posting that.

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  • nick113  |  October 26 2012, 11:25AM

    A Costa franchise recently opened a shop in Sidmouth in the building of an old pub. It attracts far more customers than the pub ever did, and the customers seem happy, possibly because it serves better coffee than many of the cafes in the town.

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