A Southwold storm in a coffee cup

PUBLISHED: 01:54 09 July 2012 | UPDATED: 21:36 20 February 2013

A Southwold storm in a coffee cup

A Southwold storm in a coffee cup

EADT editor Terry Hunt wonders if two Suffolk towns are trying to repel invaders

EADT editor Terry Hunt wonders if two Suffolk towns are trying to repel invaders

So, are the good folk of Aldeburgh and Southwold simply being daft? After all, whats so bad about a few High Street brands opening up? Surely it just gives folk more choice? Doesnt it add to the overall appeal of these two very special coastal towns? Isnt it just a big fuss over nothing?

Im referring, of course, to the battle being waged by the people of Aldeburgh and Southwold to keep out big name chains which obviously view these two well-heeled Suffolk towns as fertile ground.

In Southwold it was Costa coffee, which was rejected last month, much to the delight of campaigners. But if Costa doesnt come back for another try, then you can be sure some other big name will. A little way down the coast in Aldeburgh, its Tesco and, if the word on the street is accurate (and it usually is) Boots, and maybe W.H. Smith.

Frankly, its no great surprise that this is happening. These big brands do their homework and it wont have escaped their notice that theres a bit of spending power in Aldeburgh and Southwold.

So, is it a great big fuss about very little? Is it NIMBYism at its worst? Well, actually, the answer to both questions is a very loud "no. This isnt just about a couple of High Street names trying to open up. Its about what has, over the years, made these two seaside towns so very special. Unique, in fact, if two places can be unique!

If youve ever strolled through the centre of either Southwold or Aldeburgh, youll now just how special they are. Different. Quirky, in a very nice way. Its a different and enriching experience. One to be enjoyed and cherished. Theyre upmarket, certainly, but still distinctly Suffolk.

These towns are both full of independent, locally-based traders, earning their living from both locals and visitors alike. Many of the shops have been in the towns for decades or longer back to the times before they were fashionable. They help to create the very special atmosphere and "feel which both of these wonderful places have. It has taken hundreds of years and a lot of hard work to make them so special, so different. But it is fragile. If the town centres are allowed to be "cloned then that special, indefinable quality will be jeopardised.

Theres another angle to this. If big High Street names come in, what happens to the small independent traders? I dont need to spell out the answer, do I?

So, more power to the elbow of the folk of Aldeburgh and Southwold. Prepare to pull up the drawbridge and repel all unwanted invaders. Id stop short of the boiling oil, though.

was very sad about the terrible fire which destroyed the Cupola House in Bury St Edmunds.

"The Cupola, as its known to everyone in Bury, had been a majestic part of the townscape for hundreds of years. It also formed an important part of my formative years as a journalist.

I started my career as a cub reporter at the EADTs office in Bury, under the watchful eye of chief reporter, Robin Williams. He was part of a Williams journalistic dynasty in Bury his father, Frank, had run the office for many years, and a cousin, David, was a distinguished journalist whose final career role was as editor of the

Bury Free Press.

An important part of Robins routine was to go to the Cupola for morning coffee, along with other movers and shakers in Bury at that time. This ritual happened every day, without fail. I got the impression that was where Burys business really got done for many years. Robin would come back to the office with story ideas scribbled on matchboxes.

As a mere lad, fifth and bottom of the office pecking order, this gathering had a great air of mystery to me. "The good and great were way beyond my reach.

Im glad to say that Robin is still going strong but, sadly, the Cupola is not. It will certainly be rebuilt, but something very precious has been lost.

What do you think?

Is Suffolk right to oppose national chains in our High Streets? Email us at suffolkmagazine@archant.co.uk

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