VIDEO: Valerie Singleton leads hundreds of anti-Tesco protesters through Sherborne
Sherborne businesses shut down yesterday as hundreds of campaigners took to the streets to voice their views against plans to open a Tesco store on the site of The Sherborne Hotel.
Led by former Blue Peter presenter Valerie Singleton holding placards, over 200 protesters gathered in Cheap Street, while independent businesses shut for an hour and boarded up their shop windows in protest over the supermarket giant.
The campaigners marched to Digby Hall, where the final of three public consultations over Tesco's plans to open a store was being held.
An exit poll conducted by Keep Sherborne Viable at Tuesday’s consultation found 88 per cent of people were against the proposals, while six per cent were in favour and six per cent were undecided.
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Speaking after the protest, Valerie Singleton said: "It's incredible how many people have come along today. I looked over my shoulder and I couldn't believe how many people were there.
"I'm very concerned about the hotel closing. It's really the only hotel in the town, and if it closes, where are the coach-loads of people coming to Sherborne for the day going to stay?
"Sherborne doesn't need an out of town supermarket. There's a Sainsburys in the town centre, and if I need anything I can't get there - I can easily get to Yeovil."
Independent businesses in Sherborne are deeply concerned a Tesco store would drive customers out of the town centre and become a major threat to high street shops.
Tesco are yet to submit a planning application for their proposals to open a store on the site of The Sherborne Hotel.
Campaign group 'No Thanks Tesco' are edging closer to their target of 10,000 signatures of their petition, both on paper and online.
A spokesperson for the campaign group said: "If Tesco submit a planning application, the focus will switch to letters of objection rather than a petition, because unfortunately a petition of 10,000 signatures only counts as one letter of objection.
"This was our last opportunity as a town to demonstrate to Tesco our opinion. It just shows how strongly people care about our town and what damage an out of town supermarket would do."
See our video of Valerie Singleton leading the anti-Tesco protest in Sherborne
Hundreds of protesters marched through Sherborne as the final consultation opened into plans to open a store