DELAYS by the Co-op in building a new store in Hamworthy is resulting in it losing the loyalty of customers, it is claimed.

Hamside Residents Association has written a strong letter to the regional planning manager of the Co-operative Group following a successful application to extend planning permission for the temporary cabin on Blandford Road, Poole for a further year.

The store burnt down in the late summer of 2007 and since then planning applications have been approved but no full size store has materialised, to the frustration of residents.

The letter, signed by Hamside secretary Ann Smeaton, points out that the Co-op had been the main food shopping outlet in Hamworthy for three generations, dating back to the 1930s and over the years had built up a sound loyal customer base.

The association has carried out a Placecheck for the area, seeking the views of residents on what could be improved, and both written and verbal responses highlighted a “complete dissatisfaction” at the way the replacement of the store had been managed, said the letter.

“Whilst residents appreciated the speed in which the temporary store was erected to provide just the bare essentials, they consider that five years is more than enough time to have rebuilt the store that was destroyed by fire.

“As a consequence, the Co-op is no longer seen as being worthy of loyalty because residents are unable to complete a comprehensive weekly shop at their local Co-op which has meant that they have been forced to travel in order to shop (generally to Poole) – using the Co-op only for emergencies.”

She described the reason given by the Co-op, of waiting to see if a supermarket was going to be built on the regeneration site as “pathetic” and said the former market leader should be leading, “not following”.

A spokesperson for The Co-operative Food said: “We are aware of the importance of our store to the local community and we are committed to improving the service we offer.

“We are currently finalising plans for the site and we hope to be able to confirm details soon. We would like to once again apologise to local residents for the delay with the rebuild project.”