New moves to provide post office services
THE Post Office has started looking for a new location for a post office in Wells, as it has not been able to proceed with the planned move to Peacocks.
Wells Post Office in Market Place closed in July and a move to Peacocks had been agreed but has never come to fruition.
The future of Peacocks is now in doubt after the Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group, which owns several high street chains including Peacocks and Edinburgh Woollen Mill, announced plans to call in administrators, putting stores and jobs in jeopardy. ‘Closing Down Sale’ signs have gone up in the windows of the Peacocks and Edinburgh Woollen Mill shops in Wells.
The Post Office says that it is going to enhance post office services at Budgens on Bath Road, and try again to find a business willing to provide post office services in Wells city centre. A Post Office spokesperson said: “We apologise for any inconvenience caused by Wells Post Office still being temporarily closed. We had hoped to restore service in the town centre by now, but this has not been possible due to issues caused by the coronavirus pandemic which impacted on our chosen partner’s business.
“Earlier this year we consulted on plans to relocate the post office to the new Peacocks store, however, we have not been able to proceed with the move. We are now exploring alternative options to provide post office services at different premises in the town centre. We are also looking to enhance service provision at St Thomas Street.”
One potential new site for post office services is Natural Pets of Wells in Queen Street. Owners Nigel and Heather Derrick had previously expressed an interest in offering post office services there, before Peacocks became the preferred location. They have renewed contact with the Post Office, and had a visit by a Post Office representative to assess the practical aspects of having post office services installed.
“We are intending to commence the formal application process if advised we can do so,” they said.
“We will be happy to make all the required changes to the current shop fittings layout if our application is approved by the Post Office.”
Because of the detailed nature of the application process, even if they are successful, the Post Office is unlikely to have anything in place until the early months of next year.
The enhanced service provision at Budgens could mean the installation of a second post office till there. Richie Church, the postmaster at Budgens, said he is pushing for a second till, but this has not yet been agreed.
In the meantime, Wells City Council is trying to find somewhere to site a mobile pop-up post office unit to provide post office services in the run up to Christmas. A unit has been reserved and discussions are taking place with business owners and organisations, but options are limited as doorways need to be at least 90cm wide for the unit to fit through. The Post Office also needs to find somebody to run the unit.
Town Clerk Steve Luck said: “Following the collapse of the move of the post office to the Peacocks store, the Post Office are in talks with another interested retailer.
“In the meantime the city council are working with the Post Office to try and secure a pop-up post office in the city centre as a matter of urgency. Several site options are being discussed along with the employment of a temporary staff member by the Post Office.”
The Peacocks and Edinburgh Woollen Mill shops in Wells have both continued to trade as usual, but staff say they do not know what is going to happen in the longer term and are awaiting more information.