Private operator to take over running of under threat Post Office
- Credit: Simon Parkin
The future of a post office at the heart of a Norfolk market town that has remained uncertain for three years appears to have been secured after a new operator has been found to run it on a franchise basis.
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, in 2017 the Post Office listed it as a branch it was looking to close and advertised for a new partner to take over running postal services.
The long-running search had appeared to have drawn a blank, prompting fears over the future of the branch, but now a new franchisee looks set to take over operations from April.
Although the site will remain owned by the Post Office, the business has been bought by independent franchising partner ZCO who already run other main branch post offices up and down the country.
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Steve Blampied, head of the directly managed network for Post Office, said: "We are making this change in order to maintain Post Office services in the centre of Diss."
In a letter to staff and customers of the Diss branch he said that the decision stemmed from the 'unprecedented changes on our high streets and the challenges facing many retailers'.
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"Our priority is to provide secure and commercially sustainable services in Diss, continuing to meet our customers' needs now and into the future," he said.
"The vast majority of our 11,500 Post Office Branches, large and small, are already successfully operated by independent franchisees."
The privatisation of postal services has proved controversial nationally, however the Post Office said the change at Diss would see it continue with the current opening hours and the existing five serving positions offering the same range of products and services.
A spokesperson for Post Office said they were talking to the Diss branch team about their potential options, saying: "Employees have the right to transfer their employment in line with TUPE legislation following the decision to franchise their branch, there might also be opportunities for redeployment or a voluntary settlement."
Although the commercial decision to change the way the branch is operated has been taken, the Post Office said customers can raise issues until February 5 through online questionnaire at postofficeviews.co.uk with the branch code 011136.