DISCUSSIONS went ahead between the MP for Melksham and more than 20 staff at the town’s Countrywide Farmers store, whose jobs are in jeopardy.

Michelle Donelan went to the store that has recently gone into administration, along with the rest of the Worcestershire-based group, to meet with employees and discuss their concerns.

Despite talking to the Competition and Markets Authority in March, she said its decision to take six months to investigate the group’s proposed merger with Mole Valley Farmers cannot be reversed.

Michelle Donelan MP said: “I was greatly saddened to hear of the troubles which Countrywide is going through. as I know first-hand the hard work and dedication of all the staff on the Melksham Store.

"Many of the workers at the store have contacted me at what is a very anxious time for both them and others in the community and I was pleased to meet with them.

"Rather than challenge the legality and appropriateness of the review I believe it best to explore other avenues of support for Countrywide to help the business trade as the competition review runs its course and I am speaking to various agencies on this matter.

"Whilst the closure of Countrywide would of course be of detriment to Melksham and the agricultural community, so too would a monopoly on agricultural supplies which could see prices soar, choice restricted and our hard working farmers priced out of their jobs. It is for his reason that the review must go ahead as it would in any other industry and we must seek alternative support.

"It would be a real shame to lose Countrywide from Melksham and for anyone who is affected by this issue, my office is always open and I can be contacted on 01249 704 465 and please do not hesitate to get in touch.”