Britain's 'Angriest Town' That Kicked Out McDonald's Is Now Fighting Premier Inn
Britain's 'angriest town' that evicted a McDonald's is now campaigning to keep out a new chain store 'predator' - Premier Inn.
Residents in Tavistock, Devon, are now fuming at plans for a major hotel in the heart of the picturesque town on the edge of Dartmoor.
The fight is a little over ten years since the Devon town showed McDonald's the back door after it was forced to shut when shunned by locals.
And the campaigning residents are now getting hot under the collar over a proposal for a multi-million pound hotel in one of the main car parks.
West Devon Borough Council says it wants to claw back a yearly rent from the major hotelier to plug hole its budget. Well, you can tell this isn't their first rodeo.
But critics say it will drive local B&Bs out of business and squeeze independent traders who they spend money with.
The locally-driven campaign has been whipped up in the hope it'll force a re-think before a meeting on Tuesday to decide whether millions should be borrowed from the bank to prop up the build.
Hostility is fast building, with a mock graffiti illustration displaying the words 'No Chain Hotel in Tavi' above Abode Estate Agency circulating on social media.
Andy Coulson, of Tavistock, has launched an online petition calling for elected powers to do their homework first before pushing the button on something so huge.
He said: "The problem is, we are bringing an apex predator into a chicken coop. People will say, what's wrong with competition? What's wrong with competition is when you put an apex predator into a chicken coop?
"The hotels are mostly all independent, we are very lucky to have that here, and they're important because they use local suppliers; they buy meat from Palmer's of Tavistock and fresh fruit and vegetables from Continental Fruits.
"They are owned and operated by a family who has a mortgage with that income. They support a family. They are putting that money back into local suppliers. They spend their money here. When you get direct competition with a huge corporation, inevitably it will take away business."
Andy fears the move - which has been in the making for around seven years - could bring about a 'depression' in the town.
He says the potential new 35 jobs created by the 80-room hotel won't compensate for a potentially sudden plunge in local employment.
Another angry local Steve Hipsey said: "One of the main reasons I am against it is the way it's been done. It smacks of arrogance. There's been a lot of smoke and mirrors that have been put up to keep our noses out of it."
Sandra Callaghan has run April Cottages, her pride and joy, for 20 years, said that although she offers something different, she said a Premier Inn was not needed.
She said: "I don't think we need it here in Tavistock; we already have the Bedford. We need the parking and we try to keep the supermarkets out because we want to be local."
Premier Inn says it's keeping all options open as it looks to expand its presence and win over visitors to Dartmoor and neighbouring towns. Okehampton is another location the company is looking at.
A Premier Inn spokesperson said: "As most Premier Inn customers book through the Premier Inn.com website we can see the locations where people want to stay with us across the country.
"Locations close to Dartmoor National Park are very popular searches on our website and as yet we do not have a big presence in west Devon outside of the major towns and cities.
"We are looking for opportunities around Dartmoor including in Tavistock and Okehampton to respond to this customer demand. We have had conversations with landowners in the towns but are not committed to any particular sites at this stage.
"We will happily engage and consult with the local community when we do as we believe we bring a lot to market towns and always invest in new Premier Inn hotels for the long-term."
Cllr Philip Sanders, leader of West Devon Borough Council, said: "We are delighted to have interest in Tavistock from a major UK hotel operator.
"It demonstrates confidence in the town and will be a boost for the whole area. Hotels like this tend to provide a different kind of overnight accommodation from what we have in Tavistock at the moment.
"With a major hotel chain, one which is renowned for offering good value for money, Tavistock will soon be able to say it boasts a wide range of hotel accommodation for visitors to choose from."
Featured Image Credit: SWNS