POST Office bosses have promised a “seamless transition” for customers at its town centre branch when Co-op closes – but admit they may have to make a decision on moving before a public consultation ends.
Work is already under way behind the scenes to find a new home for the service after it was announced that Lincolnshire Co-operative is pulling out its home and food stores and coffee shop to make way for B&M Bargains in February.
Co-op’s exit leaves the Post Office in the middle of the Winsover Centre and, while they have offered to move it elsewhere in the building, the Post Office has said it will look at other options in the town.
Any proposal will require a six-week public consultation, followed by a couple of weeks for feedback to be analysed. That means time is running out if a plan is to be in place before the Co-op moves out.
Spokesman Sally Hopkins, senior external relations manager, said: “It would depend where we are in the process as to what would happen if B&M Bargains wanted to move in before we had made a decision.
“Sometimes, if we are fairly sure that we have pinpointed the best location, we will start to prepare the place in advance of the end of the public consultation, bearing in mind that operational decisions are for the Post Office to make.
“Public feedback often focuses on other issues such as ease of access and suitable opening hours which are what’s important to people using it.
“At other times, if we are not in a position to move to new premises, we can often come to some arrangement with our former partner to continue providing the service until new premises are ready.
“Ideally we like to provide a seamless transition, as in one branch closing on the Friday afternoon or Saturday morning and the new one opening on Monday morning.
“We do not want the Post Office in Spalding to be closed to customers because obviously that is not in their best interests and it is not in our best interests.”
She confirmed that Post Office Ltd has dedicated staff whose job it is to talk to relevant people, businesses and organisations, such as the district council and parish councils, to find a solution to such problems.
Currently seven staff work at the Post Office and it is hoped they will keep their jobs at the new branch, whoever ends up running it.
The Co-op has said it will try to find jobs for the 17 staff currently employed at the Winsover Centre, either at its other branches or at B&M Bargains.
Co-op Travel is due to stay at the Winsover Centre.