Business owners and residents of Bakewell in Derbyshire are appealing to the people of Totnes for help in their fight against Costa Coffee following on from last year's victory by the Devon town's No To Costa campaign.
Bakewell is famous for its long running food rivalry between the Bakewell Tart and the Bakewell Pudding but this has been put aside as the town campaigns against the 'invasion' by Britain's largest cafe chain, Costa.
Zoe McBurnie, owner of the Bakewell Tart Shop and Coffee House and Jemma Beagrie, owner of The Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop are two of the town's business owners who are fighting against Costa Coffee opening a new 80 seater café in a former furniture shop. The ladies are just two of the local business owners protesting in a campaign which has already picked up around 2,000 signatures of support since being launched just before Christmas.
Mrs Beagrie said, "A lot of visitors come to Bakewell precisely because it is full of small independent businesses. Our customers like to sit down and hear about the origins of the Bakewell pudding, or tart, and that kind of customer service is important to them. A Costa Coffee shop in town won't add anything to their visit and will attract a different kind of visitor who is just after a take-away coffee."
Mrs McBurnie added, "A similar thing happened in Totnes last year and after the town campaigned against Costa the company finally decided not to open a shop there. We're hoping to do the same thing in Bakewell. " Mrs McBurnie also said that she was worried about the knock on effects to other businesses in Derbyshire, "All of the independent businesses buy most of their produce, such as meat, eggs, cream and milk, from local suppliers and we understand that Costa has a central supplier which will mean that local dairies and butchers etc will also lose trade and this will even include the delivery drivers."
This is the second campaign launched in order to prevent Costa moving into the town. The initial campaign seemed to have been successful when the original change of use planning application was rejected last year. However, Costa appealed against the planning decision and the initial decision was overturned on the 18th of December, meaning that the company would be able to proceed with its plans to open.
The campaigners are hoping to repeat the success of the local protest against Costa which took place last year when, after a six month battle, Costa finally agreed not to open a store in Totnes after campaigners were able to demonstrate that locals and visitors would still choose to frequent the smaller, independent cafes, rather than Costa, and that the move would have a detrimental impact upon the local independent business economy if the chain continued with its plans. One of Bakewell's campaigners, Nigel Jones, has already been in contact with the Mayor of Totnes, Cllr Pruw Boswell-Harper to try and identify any similarities between the campaigns.
Bakewell's local MP is Conservative Transport secretary, Patrick McLoughlin and, dissapointingly for the campaigners, he has said that he will not be drawn into the debate and is not supporting the campaigners, saying that no other options were available for the empty premises and that several nearby towns retain independent traders alongside branches of Costa Coffee.
Mrs McBurnie summed up the campaign against Costa by saying, "At the end of the day we'd like to keep Bakewell full of local traders for visitors to enjoy" and Mrs Beagrie added, "We want people to enjoy the products of Bakewell and the experience of being in Bakewell."
To register your support for the campaign visit the Stop Costa Coffee from opening an outlet in Bakewell page of the Change.org website