The battle to save a threatened Hampshire pub has ben stepped up.

A Southampton MP has joined locals to try to protect the Big Cheese in West End Road, Bitterne.

  Staff were only told last Friday the pub will close later this week and be sold by owner Greene King.

Since then, the pub’s sale has been confirmed and work is being undertaken to find staff alternative roles.

But a group of locals are putting up a fight to save The Big Cheese, and have even suggested getting the Prime Minister involved.

Leading the campaign is Michelle Baker, of Harefield, who said: “The news came out of the blue and was really upsetting.

“We are sure the building has some listed parts and will be using that to fight our case.”

The pub’s supporters says it is popular with families and is one of very few pubs in the area that has disabled access.

Michelle added: “We may even petition the Prime Minister (Theresa May).

“She has been making a big drive around mental health and the closure will affect many people locally that suffer from mental health who use the pub.

“There are many groups that come here and feel safe; there is no other place like this in the area.”

A spokesperson for the Big Cheese said: “Following the difficult decision to put the Big Cheese on the market, we can confirm that the pub has now been sold and will close on Sunday.

“The team were informed as soon as we had a confirmed buyer, and we are working with them to find alternative roles within our estate wherever possible.”

Southampton Itchen MP Royston Smith said: “I am very disappointed that another pub has been sold.

"As far as I’m aware it was very well-used and loved by locals and I am speaking to local people to see if there is anything we can do at this late stage to protect their pub for the future.”

The news has been met with sadness and disappointment from city councillors.

Harefield ward councillor Peter Baillie said: “It is always disappointing when a family-oriented pub closes.

“It is a sad reflection of the difficulties being faced by today’s pubs.”

Fellow ward councillor Daniel Fitzhenry said he did not even know the Big Cheese was closing this weekend.

He said: “It is the nature of the beast that times are changing for the pub industry - we do see pubs close down and re-open as something else.

“While I support new housing, we need to balance it with the the needs of local people.“I know Big Cheese is open to a whole range of people, so it will be sad to see it go.”

Mr Fitzhenry added that pub closures are becoming “commonplace” across the UK, and extended his sympathies to the Big Cheese’s customers.

Satvir Kaur, Southampton City Council’s cabinet member for communities, culture and leisure, said: “Pubs are a part of the fabric of communities and they are so much more than a place to get a drink. It is a shame the Big Cheese is closing.

“It may be too late for the Big Cheese to do so, but I would urge other communities concerned about the future of their local to consider listing it as a community asset.”