Back in February, the Co-op and Post Office in Meads Street shut after months of protests from residents.
Dennis Scard, chairman of Meads Community Association (MCA), said at the protests in September 2021, “Losing the Co-op is bad enough but losing the Post Office would be a devastating blow for Meads as it plays such a vitally important role in community life.”
Since then a pop-up Post Office has been open in Meads in the Pauling Room next to Jubilee Hall. However, this is only open for a couple of hours every Tuesday.
A spokesperson for MCA said, “We remain determined to do all we can to get a permanent Post Office back in Meads Street.”
MCA sent a letter to Tesco in May which was backed by MP Caroline Ansell and other community figures. They've now received a reply from Tesco confirming in the coming months the Meads Street store will be refurbished and if the application was approved, a Post Office would be set up.
However, Tesco said it has been told new applications weren't being accepted as another applicant is being processed for a Meads Post Office.
MCA said, “The fact that the Post Office is now progressing another application whose identity is unknown is of great concern to us.”
This is because MCA want to make sure the location is right – close to other shops and bus stops. The group also wants the Post Office to have a 'long-term home which is backed by a secure business' – qualities that Tesco has.
MCA said, “The crucial questions are who is the other applicant and why haven't they made themselves known to us?”
MCA wrote to the Post Office and said, “The MCA and the wider local community are completely (and still are) in the dark about the applicant you are processing. We do not know who the applicant is, the location being offered or the suitability of the premises.
“What we do know, and support would be for the Meads Post Office to be located in Tesco’s in Meads Street as this this organisation would in our view satisfy all the criteria you seek in an applicant and provides a convenient location for post office customers.
“We cannot understand the apparent secrecy and lack of openness and transparency in not informing or involving the local community as to the details of the applicant you are progressing and why the two applications cannot be considered against each other with the most suitable being awarded the contract.”
In response to this, a spokesperson for the Post Office told the Herald, “We are working hard to restore a permanent, full-time Post Office in Meads as soon as possible and we have an application progressing. When we have a confirmed proposal to restore the service we will update the local community. In the meantime the temporary Post Office is operating from St John’s Church Hall on a Tuesday from 10am-12pm.”
Councillor Jane Lamb said, “I am glad that we now have two interested parties and hope that the situation is resolved quickly as Meads residents have been without a Post Office for nearly six months.”