CAMPAIGNERS have distanced themselves from a controversial art performance in support of the Save Whitstable Shops campaign.
About 15 adults put Tesco carrier bags over their heads while standing outside the former Clinton Cards shop, which could be transformed into a branch of coffee chain Harris and Hoole. Tesco has a 49 per cent share of the company.
The performers laughed loudly before slumping to the floor, as if suffocating, in front of stunned shoppers on Sunday afternoon.
Oxford Street Books owner Brian Hitcham, who started the Save Whitstable Shops Facebook campaign, said the stunt was nothing to do with him.
He added: "I'm sure their intention was very good but I don't feel it added anything to the campaign. Someone posted a 10-second video of it on our Facebook page but people complained so we took it down.
"A lady said she had been telling her children not to put carrier bags over their heads because it was dangerous and the protest was irresponsible.
"The people doing it said it was art, as part of Whitstable Biennale. I suppose it could be argued it was art but I'm no expert."
Biennale spokesman Simon Steven said the performance was not an official part of the event but may have been linked to fringe festival The Satellite.
Rob Morris, owner of iS-2-Gallery in Horsebridge Road, said the campaign to save Whitstable's independent shops from the threat of competition from national chains and from rent rises was going from strength to strength.
He said: "We've got more than 600 "likes" on our Facebook page now. As far as I'm aware all the independent shops are involved."
Traders were due to meet in private on Tuesday evening and hoped to hold a public meeting soon as well as launching paper and online petitions.
Like Save Whitstable Shops at www.facebook.com/SaveWhitstableShops, visit www.savewhitstableshops .co.uk, or follow on Twitter @savewhitstableshops