RESIDENTS and traders have held a face-to-face meeting with Tesco over its controversial plan to turn another Southampton pub into a supermarket.

Traders at Midanbury Broadway parade at Witts Hill fear that the proposed Express store, based in the former Castle pub, could d e s t roy their livelihoods, cost up to 36 jobs, cause traffic problems and attract anti social behaviour.

A petition against the store has attracted 2,000 signatures.

During the meeting, hosted by Itchen MP John Denham, Tesco sought to ease their concerns claiming the new store would even boost trade for some.

Tesco regional corporate affairs manager Simon Petar told the gathering that he “did not buy the argument”

that the chemist or post office would close.

He said evidence from new Express stores elsewhere in the UK showed the parade could expect an increase in footfall and that loyal customers would not desert existing traders.

He said that the store would create 22 jobs and that Tesco had received a “large number” of emails about the vacancies and an “enormous amount of letters welcoming us to the community”.

Mr Petar said the store, which will have a catchment area of 500m, would receive up to five deliveries a day, although only one delivery from a 10.5m long lorry each morning.

He said store lighting and the presence of up to ten staff would deter youths from gathering outside.

But Sarju Sonchhatia, from SNA Premier Store in Witts Hill, said competition from the new store would affect 36 people employed at shops along the parade, including his own store, a bakery, a post office, a chemist and Co-op.

He said Tesco did not offer the same “personal service” and that many of the new jobs the store would create could soon be replaced with self-checking machines.

His father Dinesh, who owns SNA and has built up the business over 30 years, said: “We don’t need another convenience store in this area.”

Tesco is planning to open its new store under permitted development rules, which means it does not have to submit for full planning application, however it will need to apply for an alcohol licence.

Enterprise Inns, the company which owned the pub, struck a deal to lease the building to Tesco.

Residents and traders have complained that it was not put on the open market after shutting in August.

Several Southampton pubs including the Bulls Eye in Butts Road, Sholing, the Winning Post in Peartree Avenue, and Woodman in Coxford Road, have recently been converted into convenience stores.