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Small price to pay to support our troops
FOR the brave soldiers who risked their lives in Afghanistan, it was a small thing to ask.
But for six businesses in Southampton city centre, it was a step too far. They have refused to put up posters encouraging people to line the streets to welcome home 17 Port and Maritime Regiment’s homecoming parade.
Most said it would be against company policy. But more than 100 stores along the route agreed to put up posters urging the public to bring out the bunting on Thursday.
Starbucks, Costa Coffee, the Co-operative bank, Oxfam, Sanrizz, and Lush all refused to put up the posters saying the parade was passing their shops.
The Co-operative bank was one of the companies which refused to put up posters publicising a homecoming parade for 1st Battalion, the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment (1PWRR) in Southampton on July 14.
Their stance saddened and disappointed Archie Parsons, secretary of the Southampton branch of the Royal British Legion. He said: “I would say to these shops, think about the reasons why they are being asked to put the posters up.
“It’s not an awful lot to give, to help with a little bit of publicity for the march. The posters should be in every shop, the more posters, the better it will be.”
He urged people to come out and support the 350 troops that will march through the Bargate and praised the Daily Echo’s support for the servicemen.
He added: “The Echo had a good amount of success with the last homecoming parade posters and I hope the people turn out again, displaying these posters is a small ask considering what these boys and girls have been doing.”
The Co-operative bank said it would not consider displaying anything other than its own promotional material.
It released a statement which said: “Our position hasn’t changed from last time. It is our policy that we will only display marketing and posters specific to the Co-operative bank.”
A spokesman for Costa Coffee said: “Due to the volume of requests received, it is company policy not to display any posters except those from Costa itself.”
Hilary Jones, ethics director at Lush, said: “Lush has a policy of not putting any posters or flyers in-store from external companies.”
The manager at the Sanrizz hair salon was unable to comment last night but staff said it was company policy to only advertise their own products and services.
style="color:#0000FF;text-align:left">17 Port and Maritime March in a larger map
Starbucks, which has two shops in the city centre, said it supported the men and women of the regiment but were not prepared to use the fronts of their businesses for the poster.
A spokesman said: “Starbucks UK respects the efforts of the men and women who serve their country in the military – including our fellow partners (employees) who serve.
“At Starbucks, to preserve the attractiveness of our coffee house frontages, we don’t hang notices or posters in our store windows. Instead, all Starbucks coffee houses feature a community notice board inside where members of the community are very welcome to display appropriate notices.”
Charity music and bookstore, Oxfam, gave more of a political response for not displaying a poster.
A spokesman said: “Oxfam does a lot of lobbying in conflict situations and it is politically neutral. It can’t be seen to be endorsing any side of the conflict in any particular form.”
The soldiers will march from Mayflower Park through the Bargate and up to Southampton Civic Centre from 1.20pm on Thursday.
Additional reporting by Tara Russell