Frome residents campaign against new supermarket

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People in Frome who do not want a Tesco store in the town are planning to take on the supermarket giant.

The news comes as new BBC research shows six new supermarkets have opened in Somerset in the last two years and four more applications are pending.

Plans for a Tesco in Shepton Mallet saw treetop protests in 2007.

Tesco said: "We always put customers first and we have invested in the UK even during the worst recession in living memory."

The UK-wide research aimed to discover the number of new supermarkets for the so-called 'big four' companies given approval between 1 November 2008 and 1 November 2010.

It found that at least 577 stores have been approved across the UK during that period. Of these, 44 are in the West.

'Unique atmosphere'

John Harris, one of the campaigners hoping to stop a large supermarket opening in Saxonvale, Frome, said: "We've already got six supermarkets of various sizes, two of which - Sainsbury's and Asda - are pretty big, so the supermarket market is already fairly saturated.

"Frome is not a clone town. There are a hell of a lot of independent shops, there's a very unique atmosphere.

"Although it's often said smaller shops have nothing to fear from Tesco because they have a niche market, the size of the supermarket proposed is going to be selling CDs, books, flowers, freshly baked bread and toys.

"I would argue, and a lot of other people would argue, that the town has much to fear."

A campaign to stop Tesco coming to nearby Shepton Mallet three years ago failed, but Mr Harris said he was still hopeful it would work in Frome.

'Convenience stores'

A Tesco spokesman said: "The BBC figures are incomplete and misleading.

"Most of our new store applications are not for large supermarkets but for small, local convenience stores, the likes of which millions of customers have relied on to get food in the bad weather.

"Neither do the BBC's figures take into account shops that have closed.

"We always put customers first and we have invested in the UK even during the worst recession in living memory, creating tens of thousands of jobs, many in the most deprived areas of the country."