Leading article: Chain reaction

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The Independent Online

There is a fine line between good taste and snobbery. To possess the former is to invite general admiration while to be accused of the latter is social death. As we report today, the people of Lymington in Hampshire are aware of this dilemma. After seeing off attempts, first by Argos and then by Wetherspoon, to gain footholds in their village, they fear their motives for doing so could be misinterpreted as snobbish nimbyism.

As outsiders, we cannot properly judge their true motives and perhaps should not try to do so, instead following Elizabeth I's well-known maxim, which was not to "make windows into men's souls". In principle, however, it is a good thing when small communities have the gumption to say no to the arrival of retail giants.

One of the saddest phenomena in modern Britain in recent decades has been the almost complete homogenisation of high streets, with the same shops, bars and pubs now to be found almost everywhere. We can't go back in time, but each time a town or village rebuffs one of the big chains they at least hold open a chance for smaller, local concerns to gain or retain a foothold. If they get called snobs for doing so, so be it. In the meantime, Argos and Wetherspoon will surely survive their defeat at the battle of Lymington.