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A BUSINESS group has lodged a formal objection to plans to build a Lidl supermarket in Eastwood, claiming it would cause job losses.

The Federation of Small Businesses says Southend Council should throw out Lidl’s second bid to build a store on the former Safestore site, in Progress Road.

If the plans go ahead, the adjoining Essex Timber wood yard would be closed and the site sold off and close, with a loss of 14 jobs.

Southend Council rejected Lidl’s original supermarket plans for the site last year, citing concerns about lost of industrial land and an increase in traffic problems in the already-congested area.

Lidl has now applied for a revised design, which would offer some commercial office space above the supermarket.

Jane Turley, secretary of Essex Federation of Small Businesses, said: “Local business owners are greatly concerned about the future of their businesses.

“They have come to us and asked for help, and we are only too pleased to give it.

“Growth in locally-owned businesses is the route to successful local economies, and protecting and encouraging them is not only a founding principle of our federation, but should be at the core of the ethos of Southend Council’s planning policies.

“That is why the bureau has formally objected to the proposals to tear down the Essex Timber site, put 14 people out of work and build a discount food store in its place.”

Raife Clarke, owner of Essex Timber, welcomed news of the bureau’s support.

He said: “This just shows how important it is for small businesses.

"The application is, essentially, the same as it was before, when it was rejected.”

Robert Byford, owner of Byford’s Food Hall, in Eastwood Old Road, said: “We had over 700 people sign a petition against the plan. It is not in the right place, as there would be too much traffic on that corner.

“We need industrial land and putting the offices on top of the supermarket would only add to the traffic problems.”

However, former Southend Mayor Nora Goodman, who is also chairman of Eastwood Residents’ Association is a strong supporter of the scheme.

She said: “I don’t know anyone who is against Lidl. All the residents here want it to open.”

Lidl declined to comment, but said it would be making a statement this week.