RESIDENTS in Marston have vowed to boycott a new Tesco store set to open in a former pub.

Hundreds of people in the area, led by a local vicar, pledged to support the protest at a public meeting chaired by Oxford East MP Andrew Smith.

Residents are concerned about the store’s impact on existing shops and increased traffic.

It is set to open on the site of The Friar pub, but no date has been announced.

The boycott idea was suggested by Rev Elaine Bardwell, of St Michael and All Angels Church in Marston Road.

She told the meeting: “One of the things we can do is just not shop there. Shopping is a moral issue and Tesco needs to understand the damage they are doing to the community.”

Nearly 200 Marston residents gathered in the Royal British Legion in Hadow Road to address concerns about the store.

Marston campaigner Mick Haines, of Croft Road, said: “I think the whole area is unified on this issue.

“The local shops have supported this area for so many years and Marston will be gridlocked by traffic.

“There are a lot of people who have said to me they just won’t be going to Tesco if it opens.”

Planning permission was given by Government planning inspector Andrew Pykett last June despite a petition containing more than 4,400 signatures of objection.

Tesco spokesman James Wiggam said: “Our Express stores encourage people to shop in local high streets and other traders can take advantage of the additional footfall they bring.”

But Eric Perkins, of Crotch Crescent, said: “Crossing Marston Road is a nightmare at the moment and to have a car park on the other side of the road will make things worse.”

Oxfordshire County Council officer David Groves said under the terms of the planning permission Tesco would have to pay for road safety improvements.