What now after post office plan collapses?

August 31 2019
What now after post office plan collapses?

THERE is uncertainty about the future of post office provision in the centre of Wells after the collapse of plans to relocate Wells Post Office in Market Place to Spar in Tucker Street.

The Market Place branch is due to close at the end of September with the retirement of the postmaster, and Post Office Ltd had been consulting on a move to the Spar store.

But the day after a public meeting organised by Wells City Council in Wells Town Hall to discuss the proposed move, rumours began to circulate that Spar operator Blakemore Retail had pulled out.

The company confirmed that the proposal had fallen through in a statement to Wells Voice that said: “Blakemore Retail can confirm that the post office will not be relocating to its Wells Spar store on Tucker Street.

“The company does not wish to provide further comment.”

The Post Office has repeated earlier calls for a retailer who is willing to take on post office services at their premises to come forward – and was in any case looking for a location for a one-counter post office service in addition to a bigger post office operation at Spar.

A Post Office spokesperson said: “We have recently been consulting on the proposed relocation of Wells Post Office, however, the retailer has recently decided not to progress further with their application.

“We understand how important a post office is to a community and we would like to reassure customers that we are committed to providing post office services in central Wells.

“A public meeting, attended by Post Office Ltd representatives, was held last week to discuss the proposed relocation of Wells Post Office as the current postmaster for Wells wishes to retire.

“We are exploring ways to maintain post office services in the area. We are in talks with the current operator, the council and an interested party.

“Any retailer or small business owner interested in running the post office and incorporating it into their business should email ND.enquiries@postoffice.co.uk or phone 0333 345 5560 option 2.”

Wells Post Office in Market Place

Wells Post Office in Market Place

Whether there will be a post office in the centre of Wells after September 30 remains unclear.

Wells City Council has had a meeting with Post Office officials to discuss the situation, and councillors are working to try to find a solution moving forward.

Stuart Taylor, who looks after the Post Office’s external relations, and area network change manager Matt Walls were at the well-attended public meeting chaired by city councillor Louis Agabani on August 13. They explained why relocating the post office to Spar was being considered, saying that that a full range of main post office services would be retained.

They were met with some hostility by members of the audience unhappy about the proposed move and the loss of a convenient central amenity.

Mr Taylor said that more than a dozen businesses had looked at the existing Market Place premises and none thought it could be run as a viable operation.

“I can’t believe there isn’t a single business in Wells that doesn’t know we’ve been looking for a location to run a post office from and we haven’t been killed in the crush,” he said.

He also told the audience that there was no Plan B.

• Picture top: Matt Walls, left, and Stuart Taylor, right, after the public meeting in Wells Town Hall chaired by city councillor Louis Agabani, centre, to discuss the proposed move of Wells Post Office to the Spar store, which has since fallen through