OXFORD City Council has hit back at claims from a closed coffee shop that Oxford has ‘lost its sparkle’

The owners of Combibos Coffee, which closed this week after 12 years, slammed the council for driving out independent businesses.

Council board member for the city centre, Mary Clarkson, said footfall had increased since the Westgate Centre opened and that Oxford was coping better than other cities around the country.

She said: “It’s sad to see Combibos leave Gloucester Green, where they are part of a continually-expanding exciting food offer in the area.

“The national retail and High Street environment has changed significantly over the past decade and the reality is that Oxford is faring much better than many other towns and cities and across the country.

“Since the opening of the Westgate Oxford shopping centre, footfall in the city centre as a whole has risen significantly despite national trends, and the city commands similar footfall now as it did five years ago.

“Footfall around Gloucester Green is actually slightly higher too, with the highly popular markets adding vibrancy in the area.”

She went on: “Business rates are set by central government; the city council provides business rate relief to many small businesses.

“We have also put in place a transitional relief scheme after the rate reviews, recognising that this has been a challenge for many businesses.”