A NEWLY-FORMED anti-Tesco protest group has called a public meeting next week.
Belper Against Tesco spokesman – defeated Green Party candidate David Wells – said: "The more of us who oppose this, the better chance we have of success."
After months of speculation Amber Valley Borough Council has finally admitted it is in talks with the supermarket giant.
Borough development director Carl Whysall this week told the Belper News: "We want to be open and say these discussions are taking place."
Local authorities enter into negotiations with major developers as a matter of course. Mr Whysall said: "We are going to be working with them (Tesco] more closely. If we don't they will hit us with a planning application and we will be fighting a rearguard action."
The protest group claims the Tesco plans to build a superstore to the west of the town centre will hit small businesses and result in Belper losing a vital part of its character.
Mr Whysall said the council has a number of concerns including how the supermarket would effect the town's heritage and how shoppers would reach the new store.
He said Tesco was asked late last year to carry out investigations into how its plans would affect Belper. Although some of the work has been carried out the group's key concerns remained.
Tesco was unavailable for comment as the Belper News went to press, but it is understood the council would like to mount a public exhibition in the town of the draft development brief for the site before anything is approved.
Authority officers have advised Tesco to set up a liaison group with local people.
Mr Whysall said: "We feel it is the correct way to work, it they talk to the interested people as a group the good points and the bad points can be taken on board."
Belper Against Tesco holds its first meeting on Thursday, May 24, 7.30pm at The Lion Hotel, Bridge Street. The group urges everyone interested to go along.
For more information visit the group's website at www.bats.fusiveweb.co.uk