Blue Peter's Val leads town's mass protest
Former Blue Peter presenter Valerie Singleton is leading a "David and Goliath" battle in a historic market town, against a supermarket giant.
Ms Singleton is one of thousands of residents in Sherborne who have signed a petition against proposals to build a Tesco superstore on the site of a large hotel.
Opponents claim the store would damage town centre trade and have collected some 10,000 signatures against the plans – equal to the number of people living in the town.
But Tesco said their research showed around 50% of residents currently did their shopping elsewhere.
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Ms Singleton led a protest in the town last week by the No Thanks Tesco campaign. She was followed by hundreds of placard-wielding campaigners denouncing the idea before a planning application has even been submitted.
Around 20 shops in the town centre closed their doors for one hour and switched off lights in support of the campaign, which is also backed by retail guru Mary Portas.
Ms Singleton said: "Sherborne is a busy, vibrant and successful town and we don't want the high street damaged."
Andrew Maddock, vice-chairman of the Sherborne chamber of trade and commerce, said: "This day of action really managed to galvanise the whole community."
Local businessman Andrew Maddock, said: "If people go to Tesco for all of their shopping they won't be coming to the high street.
"It's the same as what is happening all across the country, where Tesco opens a huge store on the edge of a town and takes away the footfall from independent butchers, bakers and candlestick makers."
He added: "It feels like a David and Goliath situation, but we have to make a stand.
"I don't think Tesco has come up against this amount of opposition before they have even submitted a planning application."
Peter Baker, co-owner of Parson's Butchers, operating in the town since 1840, said: "Sherborne is a very quirky and unique town and a Tesco will make it just like any other."
Peter Neal, chairman of the Sherborne branch for the Campaign to Protect Rural England, claimed the Tesco store would jeopardise future tourism.
On the No Thanks Tesco website under the sub-heading 'A Little Dorset town v. Tesco PLC' it is claimed a recent poll showed 663 people were against the store while 43 were in favour.
Tesco wants to buy The Sherborne Hotel and turn it into a 28,000sq ft store, employing 200 people, and including more than 200 parking spaces.
A Tesco spokesman said the new store would offer residents greater choice.
The spokesman added: "We are consulting with local people on our proposals and have not submitted an application."