Melton’s Post Office is to close, it was confirmed this week, and a new location is now being sought in the town.
The Melton Times broke the story last week that the Co-op supermarket in Scalford Road was no longer likely to host the Post Office from January.
And Central England Co-operative revealed this week that it has decided to stop incorporating the service because the relationship between the organisations was no longer cost-effective from its point of view.
A spokesperson said: “We can confirm that the Society has given notice to close the Post Office within its food store on Scalford Road, Melton Mowbray with a proposed closure date of January 2016.
“However, we are working with the Post Office Ltd and actively seeking a new operator for the Post Office in a new location within Melton.”
The Post Office moved to the Co-op in February 2007 after previously operating from the Bell Centre shopping mall on Nottingham Street for several years after moving from a large premises on Windsor Street.
The decision to cease hosting the Post Office has led to doubts being cast about whether the Co-op store would remain in Melton. Budget supermarket Lidl is currently building a new outlet nextdoor to it.
The Co-op declined to comment on its prospective future in the town but added: “The difficult decision to close the Post Office has been taken following a full review and has indicated increasing losses projected in future years.
“Like other retailers, we are constantly adapting to retail challenges at a local level along with further competitive pressures such as online sales and this decision is necessary to protect the long-term future and growth of the Society as a whole.”
The Post Office is advertising for a ‘successful retailer’ in Melton to incorporate a main post office and has set a deadline of August 3 for applications to be made.
Melton MP the Rt Hon Sir Alan Duncan has called on local businesses to take over from the Co-op and host the town’s Post Office services.
He said: “Melton cannot go without this branch, and it is vital that the Post Office works with potential operators who might be willing and able to take over its running.”
Post Office customers were concerned to hear about the loss of services at the Co-op and several would like to see the town branch return to the Bell Centre.
Alicia Horsepool (52), of Melton, who uses the Post Office to post parcels and letters and to pay her rent, said: “I hope they find somewhere else for it to go because it is unheard for a town this size not to have a Post Office.
“It should be more in the town centre so it’s easier for the elderly to get to.”
Pensioners Don and Brenda Dow, of Melton, were surprised to hear the branch was closing at the Co-op. Mr Dow said: “We use it quite a lot because we’re not online.”
Young mum Laura Leggett, of Melton, said: “It is a real shame that it’s closing. I use it a lot although there is never enough parking at this one, especially on a market day.”
Harold Veazey walks from his nearby home to the Post Office at the age of 96 and he says it is an important community asset.
“It should go back to the arcade (Bell Centre) where it used to be - a Post Office should be in the town centre,” said Mr Veazey.
Patricia Snell (78), of Melton, uses a mobility scooter to visit the Post Office and she said the present location was not ideal.
She said: “For a lot of elderly people they have to walk uphill to get to it. I would like to see it return to the Bell Centre so it’s easier to get to. I go to the Post office to draw out money because I don’t trust these cashpoints.”
Her sentiments were echoed by 45-year-old Claire Powell, of Melton, who said: “It is quite a trek for people who don’t live at this end of town.
“We have family in Wales and we use it regularly to send parcels so it would cause a few problems for us if we didn’t have one in town.”
Frank East, of Melton, said the Bell Centre was the obvious place to re-locate Post Office services to. He said: “It would have better access for the customers and create extra footfall to rejuvenate the centre.”
The Melton Times and Melton Town Partnership ran a campaign back in 2006 to keep the Post Office at the Bell Centre, which prompted 6,000 people to sign a petition and 3,000 wrote letters of objection.
l Any business interested in hosting the Melton Post Office branch is advised to email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Adrian Paling on 07802 924978.