CAMPAIGNERS protesting against proposals to move Tesco supermarket from Haddington's town centre gathered hundreds of signatures on Saturday.

Stuart Ritchie, Liberal Democrat Westminster candidate for East Lothian, and South of Scotland MSP Jim Hume set up a stall at Haddington Farmers' Market to encourage residents to put their names to a petition, opposing Tesco's plans to move from its current Newtonport location and set up a new superstore at Gateside East on the outskirts of Haddington.

If approved, the current supermarket will be replaced with a retail development that planners say will ensure the retention of adequate car parking at the site.

"I've just completed a survey of 1,000 households in Haddington and have so far received about 440 responses from residents," Mr Hume told the Courier.

"The overwhelming view is that Tesco should remain loyal to the town centre and I could count on one hand the number of people who supported the proposals." It was the third time that Mr Hume has canvassed the public for their opinion at the farmers' market, and he said that hundreds of fresh signatures were added to the growing petition at the weekend.

"People fear that a larger out-of-town store could remove business and footfall away from the centre which would have knock on effects for the high street traders," he explained.

"There are also implications for people who find it convenient to shop in the centre - not everyone has a car and elderly folk and those with mobility difficulties like the fact that they can get to the store easily.

"The petition and results of my survey will be handed in to council officials in the New Year but, until then, the plan is to keep momentum on this campaign." Though Tesco's is one of three proposals that aim to erect new supermarkets in the Haddington area - Sainsbury's and Miller Developments hope to establish new retail centres at Gateside West and Harperdean respectively - the supermarket giant has received the harshest criticism due to its plans to vacate its current town centre location.