12 April 2002

Southern co-op moots overhaul

ONE of Britains largest farmer-owned co-operatives has unveiled plans to overhaul its operations in southern England.

Southern Counties Agricultural Trading Society (SCATS)wants to demolish its grain mill at Micheldever Station in Hants and sell it off for up to 50 homes.

It also proposes to develop more offices at its other site near Micheldever Station and close three of its offices in Southampton, Winchester and Melksham.

A document it sent to Winchester City Council read:"SCATS needs to take the radical action embodied in these applications to help invest for the future, to safeguard the longer term future of its employees and provide appropriate levels of integrated services to its customers."

Tim Pollock, SCATS group managing director, said: "We want to keep all options open for the future. We are not confident that economically it is viable for the feed mill to remain in business. There are no immediate plans to shut it down and no job implications at this stage."

Mr Pollock said the plans for new offices at its other site would enable the company to relocate all office staff from its three bases in Southampton, Winchester and Melksham.

"Agriculture is a very tough business and we have to do everything we can to operate as efficiently as possible," he said. &#42