Co-op 'risks scoring own goal' in battle to save Sheffield post office
The fight to save a Sheffield post office has stepped up, with Co-op warned it risks 'scoring an own goal' by 'taking away' the service.
The supermarket chain is due to open a new branch next month in Burncross, on the site of the Costcutter store which closed in July so the building could be redeveloped.
But Co-op has no plans to include a post office to replace the one previously housed within Costcutter.
More than 1,600 people signed a petition to save the post office on Bevan Way, which campaigners said was popular, well-used and profitable, with around 1,200 transactions a week being made there.
Penistone & Stocksbridge MP Angela Smith, who says many older residents in Burncross rely on the 'vital' service, has warned Co-op it could live to regret the decision.
Raising the matter in a Commons debate yesterday, she said: "Given the depth of feeling made so palpable by many of my constituents about the threat to their postal service, I think the Co-op may well succeed in scoring an own goal.
"Many Burncross residents are saying that they will never forgive the Co-op for, as they see it, taking away their post office. I warn the Co-op now that when Sheffielders decide they are going to dig their heels in, they really dig their heels in."
Ms Smith called on the Govermnent to review how post office concessions are awarded, in an attempt to prevent her constituents and others across the country being denied what she called a 'vital' service.
She told how the owner of the building in Burncross had chosen to redevelop the premises in an attempt to 'increase profits', the existing leaseholder Costcutter did not want to pay the extra rent that 'will no doubt be due', and the incoming leaseholder Co-op did not want to include a post office as it believed the space could be used for more profitable purposes.
The Post Office is still advertising the opportunity for a concession in Burncross but has been unable to find suitable alternative premises, and Ms Smith described her conversations with Co-op as 'very disappointing'.
Business minister Margot Jones told Ms Smith: "I can only assume that the arguments with the Co-op in her constituency have been exhausted and that there is no chance of changing its mind, but if in her view that changes, she must please contact my office immediately, and I personally will do everything I can to augment the arguments she is making to the Co-op. I know that the Post Office will join us in that endeavour."
The Star has contacted Co-op and is awaiting a response.