ELDERLY and vulnerable residents in Hockley Heath could soon lose a vital lifeline if the popular village shop is forced to close.
The lease on The Drug Store on Stratford Road expires in March 2009 and owner Mohammed Rafiq or 'Charlie' is certain that recent planning permission to erect new signage over his shop will spell the end of his business and affect the many customers who rely on his newspaper delivery and grocery service. "I lease The Drug Store from Steve Hunt who also owns the hair salon, Hunt & Crossland, next door," said Charlie.
"He told me that he has permission to put up a new sign saying Hunt & Crossland over my shop.
"However he can't do that until my lease runs out and I don't know if it will be renewed. I don't know anything yet.
"I deliver to around 160 -170 houses in Hockley Heath and also to Lowsonford and Henley in Arden.
"There will only be a choice to use one shop, One Stop, which is further up the road and they don't deliver at all so it will be a shame for my customers. And I have lots of regulars who come here because we have parking facilities."
Charlie believes that the new sign means that Mr Hunt is planning to extend his hairdressing business when the lease runs out leaving him and his family, who rent the flat above the store, out in the cold.
He added:" My solicitor has written to Steve several times because he is supposed to give me six months notice if he is not going to renew my lease but he hasn't replied. I am not particularly happy."
Regular customer John Baldwin has stopped by The Drug Store nearly every day since Charlie took it over almost five years ago.
The gardener from Kemps Green said: "It would be a real loss to the village. I pay my bills here and get the papers and magazines as well as cigarettes. It's handy having the shop"
Mr Hunt refused to comment.