SECRETIVE advice was offered to a campaigner trying to prevent Asda coming to Belvedere by one of the supermarket's "major competitors".

The driving force of the Belvedere Against Asda Development Campaign (BAAD), Amit Patel, was in contact with the rival days before he spoke at Bexley Council’s planning committee on February 2 urging councillors to reject plans for Asda to take over half of the B&Q store off Lower Road.

BAAD campaigned against the plans for several months and helped to attract 375 letters and a petition of 409 signatures in opposition.

Asda claimed its research showed 90 per cent of people supported the scheme.

The intervention of the mystery contact - who Mr Patel refused to name - came "one or two days" before the council meeting.

Mr Patel, who owns Belvedere News, Food and Wine in Gilbert Road said he was handed a "name and contact number" which he rang.

He told trade magazine Convenience Store that the person on the end of the line instructed him to tell the planning committee a "sob story".

When News Shopper asked about the call, Mr Patel confirmed what was printed in Convenience Store and said "not much" else was discussed.

He declined to elaborate besides stating the conversation was "beneficial to both of us".

The 35-year-old said: "The rest of the conversation was confidential between myself and the other party."

He added: "At this stage I do not want to put out into the public domain until everything has gone through effectively."

Council officers recommended the plans were approved but councillors chose to reject them.

In line with the council’s procedures, the decision will be re-debated at another planning meeting.

The "sob story"?

On February 2, Mr Patel told the planning committee: "Traders up and down the country are being forced out by supermarkets. We simply cannot beat them on price.

"The shops in Lower Belvedere are struggling as it is.

"If ASDA opens, a number of shops will be forced to close.

"Shoppers may not want to visit the ones that remain open. How long will they remain open?

"ASDA will create jobs but for how long?

"Years ago a job was for life, sadly this is no longer the case.

"The question you should be asking yourself is how many jobs will be lost and how many livelihoods will be lost?

"It has taken a lifetime to build our community which we are proud of. You have the power to protect it."