Applications for a new supermarket are often dogged by protests, but residents in a Bristol suburb are pleading for a store in their local area.

Residents in Knowle have handed in a 166-signature petition to the management of the Broadwalk shopping centre, Bristol City Council and Bristol South MP Dawn Primarolo, calling for a new supermarket after the last Somerfield-branded store in Bristol was closed by The Co-op Group last month due to “poor trading performance”.

The store, which was in the shopping centre, was a lifeline for the elderly, residents claimed. “We have an Iceland and a small butcher’s, but it doesn’t cover the groceries,” said John Seward, who organised the petition.

“Older people can’t get to Tesco or Asda, so they can’t do their weekly shopping now. We are calling for the centre to get a supermarket as quickly as possible.”

The petition goes against the many reports of residents protesting against the opening of supermarkets and echoes Sainsbury’s CEO Justin King’s comments last month that supermarkets were not to blame for the decline of the high street.

“This is not an isolated incident,” a spokesman for the British Retail Consortium confirmed. “Vested interests and small protest groups attract a disproportionate amount of attention, but most people recognise the contribution new retail investments make to local economies and communities in terms of jobs, services and regeneration.”