A DECISION to ban a much-loved cat from a convenience store in Southbourne has sparked outrage from hundreds of its customers.

The ginger tabby, who goes by several names including Lennon, DC and Dave, has been visiting One Stop in Southbourne Grove for around 13 years. According to locals, he waits to cross the busy road at the pedestrian crossing opposite the store and goes inside to sit by the till area.

However, a post on social media has revealed that following a complaint from a customer, head office has decided to stop the cat from coming into the store.

The news has upset many regular customers, with hundreds of people calling for One Stop to reverse its ban.

Michelle Denton, a former employee, told the Daily Echo: “I don’t understand the decision. The customers love him. He’s a lovely cat and all he wants is company.

“When I worked there, he used to come through the door and settle down in some boxes or have a nap near the lottery machine. I never received a complaint about him. All the food in the store is sealed so there’s no health and safety issue.

"People who weren’t even local to the area would come to take photos – he brought customers to the store.

“From what I understand, the cat is quite independent but has an owner who lives in a flat opposite One Stop. But he’s been visiting the store since he was a kitten, it’s like his second home.”

Michelle added that since the cat was banned from One Stop, he has sat "pining" outside the store.

Georgina McLaughlin, a Southbourne resident and regular customer of the store, said it was “outrageous” the cat was no longer allowed inside.

“He’s really lovely and has brought a lot of people together. What’s wrong with showing a bit of kindness to an animal?”

A message sent to a customer by One Stop’s customer care team, and seen by the Daily Echo, explains the decision to ban the cat was made for “health and hygiene reasons” and will not be reversed.

The message adds: “I can appreciate how heartbreaking this must be for you all. If it was up to me he would be made very welcome, however this decision will not be reversed I’m afraid. I’m sorry that this isn’t the reply you are hoping for and for this please accept my sincere apology.”

When the Echo contacted One Stop for a response, a spokesperson said: “We’re all very fond of this cat in Southbourne and have asked colleagues not pet him or feed him in store.”