'˜Nightmare' for Peterborough residents facing loss of Post Office services after late contract collapse

The loss of a vital Post Office service for residents in the Ortons will be a 'hideous nightmare', according to a city councillor.

Monday, 7th January 2019, 9:21 am
Updated Thursday, 10th January 2019, 2:36 pm
Cllr Julie Howell (front, second from right) demonstrating against the proposed loss of the Post Office at McColl's last year

The branch at McColl’s in the Ortongate Shopping Centre, Orton Goldhay, is due to close on Thursday, but plans to move the Post Office into nearby QD Stores have now collapsed at the last minute.

The Post Office said that arrangements which had been agreed with the discount retailer had changed and that it is now exploring “other options” to maintain Post Office services in the area,

But Cllr Julie Howell, Green Party representative for Orton Waterville on Peterborough City Council, who has been campaigning to keep a Post Office service in the area, said: “This is a hideous nightmare. Now there is no way to avoid a break in service. This is desperately bad news for people who live in Orton, who had been reassured and now had that peace of mind snatched away.”

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The closure of the branch in McColl’s was revealed last March, but there appeared to have been a reprieve for residents after QD Stores agreed to take over the services.

Indeed, it was only last month that the Post Office had confirmed an opening date for the new branch of Monday, January 14, which makes the announcement that contract talks have collapsed a surprise.

The setback follows the loss of the Orton Malborne branch at Herlington last July.

A spokesperson for the Post Office said: “The current branch in Orton will be open until Thursday, January 10. Unfortunately the arrangements we had in place to maintain Post Office services in the area with a new, independent retailer have changed, and we are now exploring other options to ensure Post Office services will continue to be available.

“We understand how important Post Office services are to a community and would like to apologise for any inconvenience the temporary break in service may cause while we continue working hard to find a solution for our customers.”

Andy Jermy, head of commercial operations at QD Quality Discounts, said: “This was not a decision taken lightly as we had been very keen to offer Post Office services at our Peterborough store.

“However, we have been unable to agree a contract with the Post Office on terms that suit them and which are commercially viable for us. That means that, with great regret, we have decided not to proceed.

“We do hope that a suitable alternative is found for the benefit of Peterborough residents and wish the Post Office success in identifying another suitable site.”

The Post Office said staff running its services were employed by McColl’s.

Three members of staff are to impacted by the withdrawal of the Post Office, McColl’s confirmed, but it has not said whether their employment will be affected.

A spokesperson for the convenience store said: “Having explored all options, regretfully we have taken the difficult decision to cease trading at the McColl’s store in Peterborough. The store’s last day of trading will be the 11th January 2019.

“We are saddened to no longer be operating the store and our priority is to support all affected colleagues.”