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Stampede for Tesco jobs

New Tesco Express store, Whinfell Way, Gravesend
New Tesco Express store, Whinfell Way, Gravesend

A controversial Tesco Express store will open next month – and people have been clamouring for a job there.

The store in Whinfell Way, on the site of a former garage, was rejected by the council in 2010, but subsequently approved when the developer appealed against the decision.

The decision was overturned because Gravesham council did not make a decision by a set date.

This meant the council had to foot the bill for the appeal, and ended up having to hand over £15,000.

It will be the fifth Tesco to open in the town, and many traders fear it will hit their businesses.

It has, however, proved popular with those looking for work.

More than 20 people applied for every vacancy there, highlighting the crowded jobs market in the town.

One of those who is worried is Bala Arun, who runs a Costcutter close by. He organised a petition against the store, which gained 1,000 signatures.

Mr Arun, who has run stores in the area for almost a decade, said: “They made the wrong decision, there’s no justification for it.”

Martin Wilson, chairman of Gravesham and Dartford Liberal Democrats, lives in nearby Leander Drive and has previously criticised the decision.

Mr Wilson said: “I hope the people who signed the petition boycott it, I certainly will be. It seems local opinion bears no weight at all [on the decision].”

The store will open seven days a week from 6am to 11pm.

It will have a free cash machine, self-service tills, a phone top-up facility, online collection, National Lottery counter, bakery, beers, wines and spirits.

The store received more than 450 applications for 19 jobs.

The majority of the staff live in Gravesend and Northfleet.

Store manager Kate Cawthorne said: “I was thrilled by the response we received to our recruitment drive.

"In this time of economic uncertainty, it is great that we are able to create jobs for our local community and help get people back into work.”

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