LYME Regis traders have urged the town council to take action over the potential closure of the post office.
The leasehold of the post office is currently up for sale and there are fears among residents and the business community that, if a buyer is not found, this “vital community asset” could close down. This would come as a bitter blow to Lyme Regis, which has already lost all three of its banks.
A crowdfunding campaign to raise the £35,000 asking price was recently launched by local resident and businesswoman Rikey Austin, with the idea that the post office could be run as a community project in future. However, the campaign failed to raise the money needed within the limited crowdfunding deadline so donations were refunded.
Now members of the business community have turned to the town council to ask for help. In the public forum of last week’s virtual town council meeting, letters were read out from three local traders asking if the council could help secure the post office’s future.
Ms Austin, a former councillor who owns Alice’s Bear Shop, said: “Having seen closure of banks in recent years, the prospect of losing our post office would be a terrible blow to our town.
“For members of our community with limited internet access, those unfamiliar with the technology and those with reduced income unable to keep pace with demands for constantly newer technology to support banking apps, the post office offers an alternative to the long journey to the nearest bank branch.
“Add to that the need to access social support payments and the simple act of posting anything bigger than a basic letter and, not only individuals, but businesses start to feel the loss.
“It’s true no one takes on a post office simply for the money but a town council supported community-run post office, a business run not-for-profit but by our community to provide a necessary service, could be a real asset.”
She asked the council to consider how it could support an effort to secure this vital asset for the community.
Keian Gillet of the Galley Cafe in Broad Street asked the council if it could consider funding a buyer to run the post office, adding: “It would be a disaster for the local community and businesses.”
Former town and district councillor George Symonds, who owns the Amusement Arcade on Marine Parade, also questioned whether the council would be taking any action.
The Mayor of Lyme Regis, Councillor Brian Larcombe, said the council would have to debate the issue before responding, but he thought this was an issue the council should offer a view on.
Town clerk John Wright added: “The issue with the post office is not a new one; it’s one of the things I was first tasked with when I first arrived about eight years ago when it was under threat of closure then.
“I think it’s important the council does determine a position, and the council also needs to be clear about what it can do and be realistic about what it can’t do; this is a commercial sale and actually we need to consider what the council’s role in the post office is as we move forward.”