Campaigners fighting plans for an edge of town superstore in Hampshire have recruited a political heavyweight from the past - Lord Palmerston.

This morning the statue of Victorian prime minister Lord Palmerston, in Romsey's market place, appeared draped in posters saying 'No to Tesco'.

A spokesperson for the the 'Say No to Broadlands' Tesco campaigner, which has 7,000 signed up to a petition again the 35,000 square ft store, say they are not opposed to Tesco specifically or to a plan for a food store/supermarket in the town but are against the location.

It is proposed to built on the Fairground Field, on the Broadlands Estate, owned by Lord Brabourne.

Irina Davies, of the campaign, said: “We want to encourage a serious and democratic debate on vision and future development of our town by appealing to TBVC and the Planning Committee to consider the sites available in the town centre to supplement (as appropriate) the thriving local businesses and to provide valuable services the local community.”

Town mayor Mark Cooper said that the stunt devalued the seriousness of the debate.

“This is a serious planning issue and it doesn't help to mare this sort of trival protest,” he said.

He also hoped the statue had not been damaged and said the removal of the posters would be a “cost to the public purse”.

The deadline for those wishing to comment on the planning application is Friday