CAMPAIGNERS have called on the Scottish Parliament to stop supermarkets opening local stores in high streets.

The group 'Say no to Tesco' wants a change in the law to allow councils to use the planning system to prevent supermarkets opening smaller stores where there are independent traders.

The group's Ellie Harrison and Paula Fraser highlighted stores in Byres Road, Great Western Road and Queen Margaret Drive in Glasgow's West End, where several new supermarkets had opened.

Ms Harrison, a university lecturer from Lansdowne Crescent, said: "Our petition is to address a new problem emerging in the last few years, which is the proliferation of small express stores.

"The big supermarket giants are well aware of the strong opposition to their expansion. They are allowed to skirt around legislation by not needing a retail impact assessment or planning permission."

MSPs on the Petitions Committee challenged their views.

Jackson Carlaw, West of Scotland Conservative MSP, said the difference between now and 40 years ago is the names.

"In the 1960s most high streets had a Templetons, Galbraiths and a Co-op. Have we not just gone full circle but now they are called Tesco and Sainsbury's?"

John Wilson, Central Scotland SNP MSP said: "What would we do with the empty units? These stores are filling a void"

He asked how it would be implemented consistently across the country.

Project officer Ms Fraser, from Wilton Street, said: "Planning legislation is the only thing that will make a difference.

"We'd have some way of stopping them opening where we do not need them."

The committee agreed to take further evidence from Ms Harrison and Ms Fraser on how shops had been affected.

It agreed to write to the Federation of Small Businesses for a view on the impact on independent retailers.