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Letter to the editor: Starbucks has no interest in our community

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Dear Sir,

More than 3,000 members of the Stroud community have signed a petition against the opening of a Starbucks café in the Five Valleys Shopping Centre. I signed the petition and I’m hopeful that the strength of local feeling is clear to Starbucks executives and the owners of the shopping centre.

People rightly don’t want our high street dominated by a large multi-national
corporation that paid just £5.4m in UK corporation tax last year despite making a gross profit of £95m. Starbucks has almost 3,000 coffee shops around the world; Stroud will be just one more little notch in their belt.

Starbucks has no interest in our community, will contribute nothing of significance, and is wholly focused on extracting profit from our local economy to pay out to its global shareholders while paying as little tax as they can get away with.

Stroud District Council and Stroud Town Council have to follow planning rules set by the Government. Under current planning law, Starbucks does not need to apply for change of use. The only planning application for Starbucks is simply for a store frontage sign, some planters, and some parasols.

Many people have been surprised that Stroud District Council has no power to stop a major multinational chain from taking up this prime location on the high street.

Well, here is my proposal. The “Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill” is currently going through Parliament; it should be amended to give local authorities greater power to protect the character of our high streets and prevent profit-sucking multinationals from extracting wealth from our local economy.

Will our MP go beyond warm words and use her position in Parliament to fight for this change in planning laws?

Finally, Stroud has many great independent businesses that have been there for us through the pandemic and deserve our support. Coffee is better from a locally owned café.

Ultimately, boycotting Starbucks – simply refusing to give our hard-earned cash to this American behemoth – may produce the result we want: Starbucks realising there is no place and no profit for it in Stroud.

Pete Kennedy
Chalford
Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Stroud

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