Shock as Cobholm Co-op announces closure

The East of England Co-op is proposing to close its Mill Road store on February 7

The East of England Co-op is proposing to close its Mill Road store on February 7 - Credit: Archant

A community has spoken of its shock and disappointment over the proposed closure of a traditional corner shop that has served local folk for more than 50 years.

Elderly people who rely on the lifeline Co-op in Mill Road, Cobholm, are said to be among those most likely to be affected if the planned shutdown goes ahead next month.

Penny Linden, whose borough council ward includes the busy shop, said its closure would be a real blow to the staff and customers, having apparently survived the arrival of a giant Tesco store more than a decade ago.

“The shop is very important and it will be sorely missed,” she said. “Some of the staff have worked there as long as I have been here and that is over 25 years. It is a real community shop with a proper local feel.

“The Co-op is supposed to be about the community. Everyone is saying ‘have you heard?’, reacting to it and being quite shocked.

“People will be stunned. The shop is all on one level and a lot of elderly people go every day whereas the other shop has a few steps up.

“People are already sharing memories of how it has changed over the years, it is a shame.”

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Summing up the mood of Cobholm was Dave Mole, 69, of Olive Road.

He said: “It’s a disgrace and closing it will affect a lot of people round here. I use the shop every day to go and get my paper. It has taken me back a bit.”

His thoughts were echoed by 25-year-old Jeremy Gilham who said he visited the shop up to three times a day to top-up on electricity and whatever groceries he needed. He said he got on well with all the staff and added that the closure announcement was “quite surprising” given the number of people who regularly used it.

Teresa Cook, a 44-year-old mum of eight with five younger children at home said it was “a real shame” the shop was closing, and that she felt for the older folk who would struggle to walk the extra distance to Tesco in Pasteur Road.

“People who use Co-op also used AJs which is nearby,” she said. “What is sad is that I am quite capable of walking to Tesco but a lot of the older people may not be.”

Also voicing her anger was Alison Gathercole, 44, of Dolman Close. She said she used the shop every day and was “disgusted” by the Co-op’s decision to pull the plug.

The East of England Co-op dropped the jobs-blow bomb-shell on Monday, giving the eight-strong staff four weeks notice of the “proposed” closure on February 7.

Nick Denny, executive officer (property) for the East of England Co-op said: “It is always a shame when we have to consider closing a store, and it is not a position we take lightly.

“However we have to balance providing a service to local communities and ensuring our overall business succeeds. We are currently in consultation with colleagues at our Cobholm store.”

Meanwhile Nigel Crowther, 50, of Granville Road, said: “When that closes down it will leave just one shop or a trek to Tesco or into town. I go in there three or four times a day. It has been there as long as I can remember and that is 50 years. I know things change but why has it got to close?

“If there were six corner shops I could understand one closing down but it is almost the only one left. It has served the community well for all that time. It will be a great loss.”

Mrs Linden added that she understood Co-op had bought a neighbouring house to allow it to expand but had never gone ahead with the work. Its closure put a cloud on the main road through the community, already blighted by St Luke’s Church which was still shut, she said.