The Caffé Nero issue dominated Marlborough’s annual parish meeting in the town hall on Monday evening (April 23), but there were only two members of the public present.
After the formalities of the AGM, Nick Fogg told the meeting that in his role as a Wiltshire Councillor he has ‘called in’ Caffé Nero’s change of use application. This means it must be considered by the Council’s Planning Committee and not just by the Council’s planning officers.
A motion against Caffé Nero’s application was then put forward by Rich Pitts (pictured) who told the meeting: “The town is exploding with anger and frustration at the outrageous actions of an international company that thinks it can march into any town and flout the regulations by opening a coffee bar whether or not it has change of use planning consent.”
His motion, which supported the Town Council’s stand against Caffé Nero getting permission to open in the premises recently vacated by Dash, called for a boycott and peaceful demonstrations on the pavement outside the coffee bar.
During a short debate Stewart Dobson, while hoping that a busload of people from the town would strengthen planning officers’ resolve to reject the application, warned that Caffé Nero had done nothing illegal and that, sadly, retrospective permission was sometimes part of the planning process. And Margaret Rose pointed out that not everyone who had spoken to her about the issue was against a Caffé Nero in the High Street.
With indications that a vote on Mr Pitts motion might not be unanimous, a new motion, put forward by Val Compton and seconded by Edwina Fogg, was voted through with one abstention: “We call on town residents to support their Town Councillors who unanimously object to the change of use planning application from Caffé Nero. We would urge that all residents show united support at the Wiltshire Council planning meeting where this issue will be decided.”
The full attendance at the meeting was: the Mayor, the Town Clerk, Mrs Sue Fry (the council secretary), twelve councillors (who attend parish meetings, as opposed to town council meetings, as ordinary voters), two members of the public and three reporters.