Protesters demonstrate at Tesco in Southwold

A group of campaigners held a protest outside the newly-opened Tesco Express store in Southwold at the weekend.

More than 20 residents and shopkeepers stood outside from 10am on Saturday with posters and leaflets claiming the chain had not listened to requests to take measures to protect independent shops.

It was believed that the new store, based in Queen Street, would not sell newspapers, magazines or greetings cards, but traders reacted with dismay upon discovering last week that these items are being stocked.

The Southwold Chamber of Trade had initially welcomed Tesco to the town – accepting the need for a new town centre supermarket – but said the retailer was now acting against the wishes of the community.

Tesco said it had not agreed not to sell certain products but said it had listened to local concerns and was only stocking a 'basic' range of newspapers and magazines.

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Campaigner John Veitch said he was there because he 'didn't agree with the selling of newspapers' at the store. He said: 'I am hoping that the protest will make them withdraw the sale of their newspapers. I am also opposed to the late night opening of 11pm.'

Southwold Town Council held a meeting in July with two Tesco representatives and reported back afterwards that the store had agreed not to sell newspapers or magazines, following concerns raised by local people and traders. However, Tesco said no promise could have been made and the meeting was only to gather feedback from the community.

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Another campaigner June Ackroyd echoed Mr Veitch's concerns and added: 'The problem is we don't seem to get a straight answer from Tesco about what they intend to do.'

Traders in the town have also expressed fears about the impact of the forthcoming arrival of WHSmith in the Market Place. There are also rumours of a Costa coffee making an appearance in the town.

Carol Leslie, spokesman for Tesco, said last week: 'The feedback from customers has been tremendous and we are pleased that so many local people have supported us on opening day.'

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