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Protesting mums force cafe U-turn on breastfeeding ban

By Somerset Standard  |  Posted: December 06, 2012

Some of the mums who protested outside a Frome cafe

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A Frome cafe owner has apologised unreservedly to the town’s new mums after banning breastfeeding from his premises in a Twitter rant.

Chris Woodage, who owns the recently opened cafe, Crocker and Woods, in Catherine Hill, Frome, caused outrage when he tweeted on Wednesday last week that the cafe did not welcome breastfeeding or baby changing and that children must be kept under control.

Within minutes of it appearing, Mr Woodage was bombarded with complaints and had called off the ban, but the twitterati kept up their assault and after an hour he deleted the tweet and had to close down his Twitter account.

By Friday afternoon, a group of about 30 mothers, who had seen or heard about the tweet, had gathered outside the shop to hold a peaceful protest.

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He has since said that he posted the tweet in a moment of anger after he was enraged by a customer who he said failed to keep her toddler under control, while she breastfed and then changed her baby on one of his fabric cushions and left faeces on it.

He said in a statement: “I’ve been working flat out on my shop single handedly for six weeks.

“It’s my baby. I hadn’t had a day off, I was tired, grumpy and it was the end of the day.

“Silly me tweets that I’m not allowing breastfeeding, nappy changing and unsupervised toddlers in the shop.

“The tweet was up for an hour, I calmed down, saw the error of my ways but by then all hell’s broke loose on the interweb. Insults were flying, name calling was going on, explanations were being demanded, abusive email’s were received.”

Laura Francis, who is a breast feeding peer supporter for NHS Somerset, said: “I work hard with lots of other people to help, promote and support breastfeeding and think it was an outrageous thing to say.

“When I heard about what has been tweeted, I was encouraged to organise a feed in and within hours we had lots of mothers and children outside the shop. It was a peaceful protest and we had a chat with the owner and made our feelings clear, but people need to know the law before they say things.

“We feel that maybe he only retracted what he said due to the controversy it caused.

“But he was really nice, listened to our concerns and realised what he said was not acceptable and apologised unreservedly.”

Mr Woodage said it was a lesson learned and wanted to make it clear that nothing is banned from his cafe.

He said: “I reacted to a situation badly, just like everyone has done.

“The only reason I brought up the breastfeeding thing is because it was the excuse she gave me for not controlling her child – that’s all.

“I understand it offended people, I understand it caused upset but I just want to say that actually Crocker and Woods has no problem with breastfeeding at all, in public, in my gaff or where ever you like.

“I do ask that kids are kept under control in the shop.

“I do ask that dogs are kept on a lead. I do ask that babies are not changed in public and certainly not on my cushions.

“But that’s it really, come in, log fire is lit and the coffee is good.”

What do you think about the issue? Was Mr Woodage right to be angry or did he take it too far? Let us know on our Facebook or Twitter page or email editor@somersetstandard.co.uk.

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  • SuzanneL  |  December 08 2012, 2:20PM

    Precious Sherlock, get a grip! The protest was amicable & was about a stated breastfeeding ban, it was not about childrens behaviour, this was just given as a reason why the cafe owner chose to tweet. We didn't even know about the woman who had caused him to make his statement and would not condone such behaviour. However it was important to point out that banning breasfeeding is illegal. That is ALL it was about. The tweet had not been removed when the visit was planned. This was all it was about. Svataben, it happened the same day, not the next one, were you there? There are some very unbalanced comments about this happening.

    |   -1
  • Imp-Act  |  December 07 2012, 10:42PM

    Nothing at all wrong with breast (they are just mammary glands that supply natural BABY FOOD) feeding in any place BUT changing a pi**y/Cr***y nappy in any FOOD area should be punished with a fine... AND yes ALL resturants SHOULD provide changing areas FOR BABIES! They ARE our future and should be treated as such!

    |   -1
  • t1mmyb  |  December 07 2012, 12:42PM

    Men deciding where women should and shouldn't be allowed to breastfeed. Oh, btw, Saudi Arabia called. It wants its mediaeval patriarchy back.

  • LukeBath  |  December 07 2012, 12:06PM

    It's his shop- surely you can say what you do/don't want going on on your property? I think he's well within his rights, as Svataben covers in several very good points below.

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  • Svataben  |  December 07 2012, 9:43AM

    While I COMPLETELY agree that breastfeeding shouldn't be banned, I'm appalled by the behaviour displayed by some mothers in the public space. - Changing diapers where diapers ought not be changed, is quite common and disgusting. This is not a thing to do in a dining room, and certainly not on café cushions or tables (as I've seen). It's faeces, even when it's from a baby. - Not minding your kids is another incredibly common problem. When working retail, I've seen out of control kids break merchandise, knock into other people, make messes, or simply stand scared and crying because their parents thought it a good idea to leave them alone the toy department. And I've had expensive dining experiences ruined by screaming kids too. And the reactions in this case are ridiculous: "Within minutes of it appearing, Mr Woodage was bombarded with complaints and had called off the ban, but the twitterati kept up their assault and after an hour he deleted the tweet and had to close down his Twitter account" So... he removed it quickly and there is no ban, yet they kept harassing him + arrange a demonstration the next day EVEN THOUGH THERE NO LONGER WAS ANYTHING TO DEMONSTRATE AGAINST. What is wrong with people?

    |   27
  • eyeopener  |  December 06 2012, 8:34PM

    @ Viscount_V Sorry Viscount_V, I have just re-read your comment. Yes! It really does help to read comments more carefully :))

    |   3
  • Viscount_V  |  December 06 2012, 5:52PM

    I was quoting jimhill eyeopener, hence the extra inverted commas. Please re-read the post before quoting laws at me that I'm more than well aware of.

    |   4
  • eyeopener  |  December 06 2012, 5:30PM

    @ Viscount_V I respect your right to an opinion, but ANY AND EVERY business should be allowed to say no to mothers breast feeding in their businesses it's a very private moment between mother and baby". The Equality Act, which came into force in October 2010, says it is sex discrimination for a service provider to treat a woman unfavourably because she is breastfeeding. So wish as much as you might, until the law changes that is the situation. As for nappy changing, if the proprietor has the toilet facilities I spoke of earlier, I'm with you in believing that it should not happen in the eating area. As for badly behaved children... as has been observed that is normally down to badly behaved parents. Some single parents have shown parenting skills that the parents of some noisy 'oiks' might do well to emulate.

  • RobOldfield  |  December 06 2012, 5:18PM

    by ludwigvan Thursday, December 6 2012, 1:53PM "@RobOldfield....... Not only was I taught how to behave, I was also taught to spell! I have counted nine and as for the grammar and punctuation - let's not go there! This is a debate about common decency and treating ALL members of society with respect.... My proof reader was absent during my last posts but as this is not an english test it hardly matters you got the message ( or not). It is ammazing how many sanctimonious *****s have selective memories. perhaps YOU thought your kids were well behaved, maybe YOU were oblivious to the annoyance of others around you. maybe you only took your kids out to family occasions as the cafe culture wasn't around then.

    |   -5
  • eyeopener  |  December 06 2012, 5:14PM

    @ joning "I don't give a monkey's about breast-feeding in public" "$hyte parenting." Doesn't that comment with its implied swearing say more about you than the parents you complain of?"

    |   -9