STRONG-MINDED traders and residents held a protest on the Lee-on-the-Solent seafront against plans for a new supermarket which they claim will wipe out existing businesses.
The proposed Tesco store would be built on the corner of Pier Road and Marine Parade West, in the heart of the shopping hub and conservation area.
Tesco claims its new Express would bring between 20 and 30 jobs to the area, but members of Lee Business Association are concerned of the effect it will have on the trade which is already there.
The group’s representative, Peter Patterson, who organised the protest, said: ‘Lee offers such a unique shopping experience because there are so many different independent shops.
‘We’ve worked really hard to keep it that way and it’s one of the only towns in Britain that is bucking the trend of closing down all these shops and opening larger chain stores in their place.
‘We’re really proud of what we have here and we want to keep it that way.’
A petition against the new store with around 600 signatures will be sent to Gosport Borough Council and a substantial number of those turned up to voice their concerns at the protest on Headland West yesterday.
Another trader Kiru Uma, who has a groceries shop less than 100 yards from the proposed site, said: ‘It would have a huge effect on every single trader in Lee-on-the-Solent because Tesco would sell under the one umbrella what we all sell individually – there’s just no way we could compete with them.
‘I wouldn’t have bought my shop if I knew about these plans.’