What makes a community? Neighbourliness and friendship. Houses and green spaces. Schools and libraries. Reliable, affordable public transport. Dependable council services. Easy access to quality local shops, writes Julie Howell, co-ordinator, Peterborough Green Party.
If any of the above were to be suddenly taken away from your community you would feel upset and outraged and you would want to know what is being done to get that service back.
In Orton, an essential service on which the local community relies is apparently under threat.
Yet there has been little reassurance that the service will be protected and residents are, understandably, very worried. I’m talking about the Post Office.
Two Post Office counters, one in Herlington in Orton Malborne, and another in the Orton Centre in Orton Goldhay, both of which are situated within shops that are set to close in coming months.
If you are able to conduct the business and community aspects of your life online, feel confident transacting with machines instead of people, cheekily use your workplace’s mailing system to send and receive packages, don’t claim any benefits and never need to send parcels then you may be wondering what the fuss is about.
But, if you are reliant on the Post Office to pay your bills, withdraw cash and stay in touch then the loss of a local Post Office can be devastating.
There is another, growing, group of residents who will struggle to make a living, feed their families and heat their homes if our community Post Offices are lost.
This is the growing army of sole traders and small business owners who work from home in the heart of our local communities.
The Federation of Small Businesses says there are 3.4million sole proprietorships in the UK, while the combined annual turnover of our small businesses is £1.9trillion.
Small businesses are responsible for 51 per cent of all private sector turnover in the UK.
If local Post Offices disappear many local small businesses will struggle to continue trading.
I spoke to a Peterborough resident who runs her own business from home, selling handicrafts online.
She described a very busy life (she has three children and another on the way).
She visits her local Post Office (one of the ones in Orton that is set to close) every day to ship goods to her customers.
Without easy access to a local Post Office how is her business to survive?
The closure of community Post Offices results in more and longer car journeys.
The nearest Post Office to those closing in Orton is in Orton Longueville on a small parade of shops in an otherwise residential street. How will that neighbourhood cope with the influx of additional traffic?
At time of writing there has been no word from Post Office Counters Ltd on whether they will continue to provide services at the two locations in Orton soon to be lost. Meanwhile, residents and small business owners wait anxiously to hear whether life is about to become far more difficult.