HIGHWORTH councillors are fighting for a new Aldi to be built in the town after Swindon planning officials suggested that the retailer's plans would be refused.

Local residents have been urged to prove that they're in fully in favour of the supermarket by signing a petition which is in the Highworth town council offices on Gilberts Lane and in Country Dry Cleaners on Sheet Street.

The petition will be taken to a Swindon planning meeting on Tuesday April 10 to show the borough council's planning department that the town support having a second supermarket.

Highworth Town Council unanimously recommended that the retailer's planning application be accepted, then were shocked and appalled when the planning officer ignored their advice and indicated that the application would not be given permission.

Councillors have repeatedly mentioned that the town's Co-op is failing to meet residents' requirements and argued that it's become complacent due to the lack of competition.

Cllr Lynn Vardy has been particularly vocal about the Co-op's inadequacies.

At a Highworth council meeting on Tuesday, she said: "Everyone I speak to is fed up with it, people are always moaning about the shelves being empty.

"One person wrote to the CEO and received a useless reply.

"For a lot of people, this is their only place to shop and it's abysmal, it's unfair to them.

"The Co-op had a vast amount of money invested from Swindon Borough Council to build here and they have treated the town appallingly.

"If I were them and I thought Aldi would be setting up down the road, I'd get my act together."

Other councillors agreed with Lynn and they decided to write to the Co-op's CEO to ask why this branch has been so poorly-stocked and maintained.

Last month, David Dewart from SBC’s planning department attended an extraordinary Highworth Town Council planning meeting to explain why the new Aldi may not be given the go-ahead.

He said: “Our main concerns are the impact this Aldi would have on the town centre, the unsustainable location of the site, and the loss of ‘employment land’ - we have little comfort that the rest of the site would be built up."

In response, the council noted that no Highworth businesses have expressed concerns about the supermarket and that a bus stop could be moved to make the location, near the Blackworth Industrial Estate, more accessible.

The application (ref S/17/1771) received more than 200 supportive comments from locals and, according to the retailer, a consultation they held with residents was very positive.

Aldi also submitted a second application (S/OUT/17/1772) for extra buildings to be built for other employers next to the supermarket in a wider business park.

For more information about the petition, visit highworthtowncouncil.gov.uk/aldi-petition