Part of a community dies when Post Offices close

A protest against the loss of Post Office services at Ortongate Shopping Centre
A protest against the loss of Post Office services at Ortongate Shopping Centre
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Yet another famous high street retailer has gone into administration with HMV announcing that its Peterborough store is closed. We extend sympathy to those who have lost their jobs, writes Barry Warne from Peterborough Green Party.

People don’t consume music the way they did 10 years ago. The advent of downloadable music and streaming services has had a devastating impact on the music retail industry. Moves into merchandising and game retailing provided a stay of execution for a few years. All music retailers must now change their game or die.

Peterborough city centre used to boast at least four record shops. Virgin, Our Price, HMV and the independent store Andy’s Records were all popular here 20 years ago. And you may remember the marvellously shambolic ‘House on The Borderland’ on Lincoln Road which was crammed full of secondhand records, comics, and clothing.

Independent retailers such as Mars Plectrum in Paston mean there are still some local outlets where you can purchase music on vinyl in Peterborough, and some of the supermarkets stock chart CDs. If these retailers don’t have what you’re looking for you’ll need to go elsewhere or log online.

Over the past decade the Internet has enabled millions of people to go into business online, buying and selling not just music, but jewellery and clothing and every other physical product you can think of. A few new entrants to these marketplaces could not be sufficient to topple a giant like HMV. But this isn’t a trickle, it’s a flood. Amazon Marketplace has more than five million third party sellers worldwide. This is having a devastating impact on retailers who don’t change their business models.

Some third party retailers are ‘sole traders’, people with no real world retail experience making an income from home. The backbone of such businesses is how successfully they can fulfil their orders and so local post offices play a sometimes essential role in keeping this new type of business in business. How ironic then, that those very businesses that have led directly or indirectly to the demise of high street chains are themselves at risk due to the demise of local post offices.

An example: the post office at Ortongate, Orton Goldhay, served its community for many years.

Whether it was paying pensions, weighing parcels or supplying passport forms there can’t have been many Orton residents who didn’t use it. But now it’s gone, hot on the heels of the post office in Herlington, Orton Malborne, which has also closed. A post office will open in Matley, Orton Brimbles soon, but for a shopping centre like Ortongate to not have a post office is something that would have been unthinkable a few years ago.

A post office can serve as a hub for a community. With many closing some communities now lack a focal point. We must fight to defend our local post offices.

When a shop closes we may feel a brief surge of nostalgia.

But, when a post office closes part of a community dies with it.