Sir George visited the Co-op in King Arthurs Way, scheduled to close in four weeks time with the loss of 13 jobs, and spoke to local residents campaigning to keep it open. He also spoke to staff. "They are in a difficult position as they have been asked by the Co-op not to talk to the media, and I am anxious not to get them into trouble. They are already faced with the loss of their jobs in four weeks time."
The Co-op have put out a statement which says
"The closure decision was taken with the greatest reluctance and much regret.
"It was due to the store's poor trading performance and because the lease was due to expire."
The local residents Sir George spoke to were angry.
"Those who live in Sandringham House next door are particularly upset. Many are elderly and find it difficult to get around, and would face real problems if they lost the shop and the Post Office."
"An estate of this size - some 2500 people - needs a shop and my job as the local MP is to make sure it keeps one. The nearest Post Office is in Bridge St over two miles away. That is quite a hike and where there are often queues."
Sir George praised all those who had been working to improve the quality of life on the estate. "Last week, the two schools at Knights Enham were re-opened after £4 million had been invested in them by Hampshire County Council. Test Valley Borough Council, Testway Housing, the Church and many voluntary organisations are hard at work improving the quality of life on the estate. The loss of the shop would be a real setback, were it to happen."
Test Valley have set up a Turnaround Project on the estate; the hall by the Entertainer has been redecorated; Askalot was opened two years ago next door to the shop, and has a Job Club, Debt Advice and sponsors many other activities. The PCSO's are very active, and a new playground was opened last year."
Sir George spoke to Leslie Perry who was spearheading the campaign to keep it open.
Sir George said he would contact the Co-op and ask them to postpone any closure to give time for a solution to be found. He would also contact TVBC, as landlord, to see what role they might play in brokering a solution.
The Co-op are applying for planning consent for a warehouse on the Andover Airfield site