Ashburton Co-op supermarket objectors joined by MP

Image caption Traders in Ashburton fear for their future

A Devon MP is supporting campaigners fighting plans for a supermarket on the outskirts of a Devon town on the edge of Dartmoor.

Mel Stride, Conservative member for Central Devon, said he agreed that the Co-op will damage Ashburton's thriving independent sector.

The Co-op, which already has a convenience store in the town, said the new store will not affect local shops.

Dartmoor National Park Authority is to make a decision in August.

Mr Stride said: "Ashburton is a highly successful vibrant town.

"Part of that great success has been built upon the strength of its local retailers.

"We have a whole variety of shops there including specialist bakers, fishmongers, and a specialist butcher.

"The fear is that a large supermarket on the outskirts will take trade away and some of those traders may start to suffer."

The Co-op said the new store, close to the Linhay junction of the A38, would create 15 jobs.

But Mr Stride said jobs could be lost in the town as a result.

He said: "We may see a situation in the future when the town centre starts to go into decline and that's something I'm determined to fight very hard against."

A Co-op spokesman said people came to Ashburton for the local shops, and the new store, which would only sell food, would not affect their trade.

More than 100 people attended a public meeting earlier this month to discuss their concerns.

Emma Richards who has co-owned Best Sellers wine shop for 22 years said: "We think it will be devastating for our business and for others in the centre of town."

The nearest supermarkets to Ashburton are in Newton Abbot, about six miles away.

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