Future of branch still uncertain as Post Office search for partner fails to deliver
PUBLISHED: 17:22 03 July 2019 | UPDATED: 17:22 03 July 2019
The future of a post office at the heart of a Norfolk market town remains uncertain more than two years since a search for a franchisee was launched.
Diss Post Office, an imposing purpose built building on Market Place, which opened in 1953, is one of the last Crown post offices still operating in the country.
As part of a national modernisation programme the Post Office has been seeking to franchise Crown post offices, larger offices that it directly manages, with partners either taking over the existing premises or post office services relocating.
In 2017 the Post Office listed the Diss branch as one it was looking to close and advertised for a new franchisee but the search has so far been unsuccessful.
Nationally the Post Office has an agreement with WH Smith to relocate branches into its stores but it is believed the chain, which runs a small Diss branch, has shown no interest. Another potential partner, newsagents McColl's, last week announced it was closing its Diss store.
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A spokesperson for the Post Office said they are continuing to look for a way to provide postal services in the long term.
They added: "We believe the best way to ensure the long term sustainability of Post Office services in Diss is to find a suitable franchise partner from where the branch would operate.
"We would like to reassure people in the area that we are committed to maintaining Post Office services in Diss while we continue to look for a suitable franchise partner."
Post Office managers last year met with South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon and members of Diss Town Council and South Norfolk Council about the future of the branch.
Graham Minshull, chairman of South Norfolk Council, said: "There has been no progress since then. Diss has the second smallest WH Smith in the country so going in there was never an option. There was talk of it going into Tesco or Morrisons but they said no, and McColl's said they didn't want it either. I don't think there is any other obvious option.
"If you consider at one stage Diss had four post offices, we are down to the last one. It is worrying to see where it has gone, but I don't think we will see any change any time soon. They must maintain a service unless there is another viable option to take over."