Supermarket’s chance to ‘shape up or ship out’

Peter Axworthy at the OffBeet cafe

High demand could mean expansion for cafe owner

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A meeting was held to discuss how the store could better serve the community following on from the Co-op’s plans to upgrade and expand its Locks Heath store.

Fareham Borough Council plans to regenerate the centre of Locks Heath to include a swimming pool, fitness suite, library and community centre.

The council’s plans also include the building of a larger supermarket on the outskirts of Locks Heath.

This proposed larger supermarket has prompted fears that it would lead to a drop in people visiting the centre which would have a knock-on effect on local businesses.

The Co-operative was so concerned by this that it drew up alternative plans which promised an upgraded and larger Co-op in a bid to stop the larger supermarket.

Leader of Fareham Borough Council Councillor Sean Woodward said: ‘One of the concerns is the state of the Co-op. The offerings there are pretty woeful.

‘We have given them the alternative – now is the time to shape up or ship out. They have had the monopoly in Locks Heath for too long and if they don’t improve, it will be time to let another retailer in so that the locals can be better served.’

Owner of Crest dry cleaners in Locks Heath, Sophia Douman-Halford, said: ‘We don’t want another supermarket.

‘What’s so lovely is that Locks Heath is full of independent traders. If the council sells out to a supermarket, we will be just another failed High Street and nobody wants that.

‘All we want is for the Co-op to stock their shelves. They’ve got a bit complacent but they’re not that bad.

‘The Co-op knows that it needs to improve.’

A spokesperson from the Co-operative said: ‘Following the meeting with representatives from the council and traders from Locks Heath district centre, we are pleased that there was widespread agreement that there is no need for an additional food retailer.

‘We have listened to the concerns raised about our existing store and we are looking at ways to address these.’