MP for South Norfolk Richard Bacon believes a proposal to relocate Diss Crown Post Office’s services to the WH Smith branch would result in a “damaging effect” on the town centre’s regeneration.
Mr Bacon confirmed the WH Smith branch in Mere Street had expressed interest in taking over the Post Office franchise in Diss when he spoke during a Parliamentary backbench business debate on Post Office closures on Tuesday morning.
The future of Diss Post Office in Market Place has been in doubt since plans to close and franchise out select Crown branches were announced earlier this year – which the Post Office said was necessary because it felt these branches were not sustainable.
In a speech at the House of Commons, Mr Bacon said the proposal to shut the Diss branch “cut completely against” the ongoing £3-million works under way to rejuvenate the Heritage Triangle, and he called the WH Smith shop in Diss “not in the remotest bit suitable” to take on the Post Offices services.
“The proposal to transfer the post office further south to the WH Smith branch would, apart from the inaccessibility problems, put it on the wrong side of town. That would be to the clear detriment of public investment in restoring the old town centre,” he said.
“It would also mean that many public events would, instead of taking place against the background of a heavily used, vibrant public building, take place against the background of a closed, redundant, empty building, since there is no word on what Post Office Counters would do with it.
“In the case of Diss, it would have a damaging effect by counteracting significant public investment in a project that aims to revive Diss town centre.
“Diss could and should be a flagship example of the regeneration of our market towns, with the successful Crown post office at its heart.”
Public opinion in Diss on the matter has been almost entirely in favour of maintaining the Crown Post Office as it is, in its current location.
Two petitions have been set up in opposition to the franchising proposals — one of them, set up by resident Brigitte Butcher, has gained almost 2,000 signatures, while the other, created by the South Norfolk Liberal Democrats, has been signed by more than 1,000 people.
A public meeting is set to take place at the Diss Youth and Community Centre on May 11, from 6pm to 8pm, with guest speakers including Mr Bacon, Diss Town Council leader Graham Minshull and Andy Furey, national officer at the Communication Workers Union (CWU).
What do you think about the Diss Post Office franchising plans, and the proposal to relocate to WH Smith? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org