Thank you Councillor Gamble for defeating the Caffe Nero planners

Written by Val Compton on .


I attended Wiltshire Council’s area planning meeting which dealt with the application from Caffé Nero last week.  It was heartening to see so many “No to Nero” campaigners turn up and we were treated to a well reasoned debate.

Some excellent points were made by both public and councillors in opposition to this application.  I must single out Councillor Richard Gamble (vice-chairman of the committee), who arrived having obviously done some extensive homework and addressed each issue and aspect with clear reasoning, which reminded of me of the very logical way that lawyers deal with points in a court of law.

He was very sure of his ground and did much to support arguments with evidence that clearly won the day.  At least three councillors changed their mind during the debate and consequently voted against the application.  This was democracy in action.

The effect Caffé Nero will have on the “vitality and viability” of the town is a crucial one. In fact, Caffé Nero’s arrival has made and will make, little positive impact on the vitality or viability of Marlborough – even though it is a busy cafe.

The vitality and viability has altered somewhere – but in a detrimental way – in the 20 or so coffee outlets that already exist, some of whom are independent and can little afford to have their business diluted by the arrival of another national chain.  It is a fairly obvious equation that the same number of visitors arriving in town who require coffee, will be shared by a greater number of outlets.

To think that anyone may actually make a special trip to Marlborough for the purpose of drinking coffee in Caffé Nero, then incidentally go shopping whilst here, is slightly ludicrous.

If we are to keep Marlborough’s economy buoyant, we need an all out effort to support our independent businesses in particular.  I’m aware some of the chains actually consider and positively contribute to the local community.

However, the point was made that it is the very individuality of our shops in Marlborough that promotes choice and protects our uniqueness, thus attracting a wide range of shoppers, tourists and visitors.

If we allow the High Street to become unbalanced by the chains such as Caffé Nero, who seek to take business from independents already trading, we will become a less exciting town to visit.

Caffé Nero has proved with its’ arrogant approach, that it could not care less about the community or the planning rules.  The bullying tactic of verbalising how many planning appeals they have won, rather proves that it is purely interested in itself, not the town in which it seeks to trade.

It did not even bother to send a representative to the planning meeting to make a case, I can only assume, they were quite sure of winning.

The very positive effect that Caffé Nero will be having on vitality and viability, is in one place and one place alone; on its own balance sheet under “profit”.

It was great to see so much strong opposition to Wiltshire Council officers’ recommendation to allow this application. A special vote of thanks is due to Councillor Richard Gamble for his huge efforts on what may become an important test case. We are indeed grateful to him.

Yours faithfully

Val Compton