Supporters of the Nisa-Today's-Costcutter merger have always argued that it would have increased the strength of both parties and helped the whole sector resist the power of the biggest supermarkets.

Opponents were unconvinced that the figures stacked up and others were annoyed at the lack of communication between the board and members.

Wherever the truth lies, what is a crying shame is the state the organisation has got into over this. Its own members have complained to the Office of Fair Trading about its trading practices. Personal remarks are being flung about behind people's backs about the motives of personalities at all levels of both companies.

One of the biggest stalwarts of the independent sector has descended into squabbling and backbiting. What message is this sending to onlookers?

Let everyone involved listen to the voices of reason in this mess and work together. Otherwise the potential damage done to the ­sector by the major supermarkets could be nothing compared with this fiasco.