Sherborne residents protest against Tesco

Tesco protest in Sherborne Former Blue Peter presenter Valerie Singleton led a protest on Tuesday

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Thousands of residents have signed a petition against plans to build a Tesco superstore in a Dorset market town.

The supermarket giant is consulting on plans for an out of town store on the site of The Sherborne Hotel on the A30.

Former Blue Peter presenter Valerie Singleton, who lives in the town, is supporting the No Thanks Tesco campaign and led a protest on Tuesday.

Tesco said research showed about 50% of people in Sherborne did not do their shopping in town, but in nearby Yeovil.

But campaigners say it would damage town centre trade and they have collected about 10,000 signatures against the plans - the same number as there are residents in the town, according to county council statistics.

'Offer greater choice'

Hundreds of protesters followed Ms Singleton with placards denouncing the plans from Cheap Street to Digby Hall on Hound Street as a public consultation by Tesco opened.

About 20 shops in the town centre closed for one hour and switched off lights in support of the protest.

Ms Singleton, said: "There were 709 people through the door of the Digby Hall in the first hour, and an overwhelming vote of 663 against and only 43 for.

"Sherborne is a busy, vibrant and successful town and we don't want the high street damaged."

A Tesco spokesman said it had not yet submitted an application.

"We are consulting with local people on our proposals," he said

"We know many residents shop in Yeovil and would like to offer them greater choice in Sherborne."

A campaign spokeswoman said the town was "already well served by two town centre supermarkets, convenience stores, independent shops and local markets".

"Local businesses fear Tesco's plans to demolish a busy 60-bed hotel and replace it with an out of town superstore will create a downturn in town centre footfall."

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