HUNDREDS of residents and traders have a launched a campaign against another Southampton pub being turned into a new Tesco store.

About 50 protesters gathered outside The Castle pub in Midanbury to hand a 600- name petition to Itchen MP John Denham, who is backing the campaign.

Tesco has acquired a lease to the pub, which closed last month, and plans to open a new Express store next year.

It does not need planning consent for change of use.

Traders at the nearby Midanbury Broadway parade at Witts Hill fear it will ruin their livelihoods and cost jobs.

Tesco says it will consult the community before pressing ahead with its plans and claims a new store will boost trade.

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.

Amit Sonchhatia, from SNA Premier Store in Witts Hill, said about 30 people were employed at shops along the parade, including his own store, a bakery, post office, and Co-op. There is also a chippy and a pizza outlet.

Mr Sonchhatia said: “It’s a big worry for the local community and traders. If business cuts down people are fearing they will be laid off.

Tesco might create 12 jobs but you could lose 25. The bakers will be majorly affected.”

He said there were already five Tesco stores within a one-mile radius and said the retail giant was creating a “monopoly” of local trade.

He added residents were also concerned about road safety from delivery lorries.

Ann Stevens from the Midanbury Bakery said: “We don’t feel we need a Tesco here. We’ve already got everything you could want here. It could shut the whole parade down.”

Mr Denham said: “The community is saying no to pubs being turned into shops.

“It is particularly concerning when Tesco already has several outlets in the immediate surrounding area.

“It would be dreadful if the competition from Tesco were to damage the parade and mean the loss of local businesses, many of which have been there for many years.”

He added: “I’m sad every time I see another pub close in Southampton. The Castle is one of far too many public houses that have closed in the city. Every time this happens we lose an important hub for the local community.”

Enterprise Inns confirmed it had sold the pub,.

Tesco told the Echo: "We can confirm that we have taken a lease and we will be writing shortly to residents, retailers and councillors to outline our exciting plans.

“Express stores are very popular with local customers and communities.”