Rochdale retailers and locals are fuming over their council's proposal to secure its employees discounts in town centre shops.

The council, which employs more than 10,000 people including trading standards officers and inspectors, claims that a discount scheme would benefit the local community.

Rochdale MP Paul Rowan said: "This idea will not only benefit local shops, but also council employees. It is vital for the local economy to keep as much money in our town as possible. The more shops that sign up the more successful it will be."

However, retailers and non-council workers disagree. "Why should council employees be offered a discount, and why should the already struggling shopkeepers of Rochdale be expected to give one?" said local man John Butterworth.

One independent retailer, who did not wish to be named, said most traders were against the idea, but were afraid of speaking out. "It is patently unfair to those who don't work for the council, but we feel we have little choice. The council employs a huge number of people and if we say no they may shop elsewhere," he said.