One of Britain's most passionate struggles against the growth of the multiple supermarket chains has received the backing of local councillors.

In a public letter the leader of Bristol City Council, Barbara Janke, has asked Tesco to back down over its plans for an Express store in the city's Stokes Croft area, and allow the site to be used by a community-owned alternative.

"We would like Stokes Croft to become a distinctive destination in Bristol and do not believe another chain store will help achieve this aim," she wrote.

The letter is the latest move in local residents' long struggle to defend their neighbourhood from the retail giant, which plans to open a store in a former nightclub. Community action has included a demonstration in which protestors were removed from the site by police.

Local groups claiming to represent more than 3,000 people also wrote to Tesco chief executive Terry Leahy to ask him heed the council's plea.

Tesco says it is keen to invest in the area and claims to have spoken to many locals who would welcome a Tesco Express.