A PETITION campaigning against a licence application to open a Morrisons Local store in South Ham has collected more than 2,000 signatures.

WM Morrison Supermarkets PLC has applied to Basingstoke and Deane Borough for a premises licence to sell alcohol at the former Hammer and Tongs public house in Old Worting Road, South Ham.

If the licence is approved, the Morrisons M Local store will be open seven days a week between 6am and midnight.

But local shop owners have launched a petition calling for the borough council to reject the licence application and have warned that they face closure if plans get the go-ahead.

Husband and wife team, Amarjit and Iqbal Bhuller have owned Bhuller Stores in St Peters Road, in South Ham for 15 years.

Mr Bhuller, 70, told The Gazette: “My wife and I decided to start a petition and we have taken it to residents in Old Worting Road and Salisbury Gardens and said we should do something.

“We don’t a shop there, Morrisons (the supermarket) is just down the road. We are still in business and open but we cannot do anything else, we have got to keep it (the shop) open.”

Wife Iqbal Kaur, 58, added: “It is ruining our life, there are so many shops around here. I have built my business in the community. If their shop opens, ours closes.

“They are killing other peoples businesses and it is not right. They will be selling everything cheaper so I can’t compete.”

A spokesman for Morrisons said: “Our aim with this store is to bring life back to this once prominent site with a store tailored to suit the community it serves and create 20 new jobs in the process.”

“We want to reassure residents that we take our role as a responsible retailer seriously and welcome discussions with the councillors during the licensing hearing later this month.”

The license application will be decided by the licensing sub-committee at Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council on Tuesday.