Clo­sures make life more dif­fi­cult

Julie How­ell, co-or­di­na­tor, Peter­bor­ough Green Party

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - SPEAKER’S CORNER -

What makes a com­mu­nity? Neigh­bourli­ness and friend­ship. Houses and green spa­ces. Schools and li­braries. Re­li­able, af­ford­able pub­lic trans­port. De­pend­able coun­cil ser­vices. Easy ac­cess to qual­ity lo­cal shops.

If any of the above were to be sud­denly taken away from your com­mu­nity you would feel up­set and out­raged and you would want to know what is be­ing done to get that ser­vice back.

In Or­ton, an essen­tial ser­vice on which the lo­cal com­mu­nity re­lies is ap­par­ently un­der threat.

Yet there has been lit­tle re­as­sur­ance that the ser­vice will be pro­tected and residents are, un­der­stand­ably, very wor­ried. I’m talk­ing about the Post Of­fice.

Two Post Of­fice coun­ters, one in Her­ling­ton in Or­ton Mal­borne, and an­other in the Or­ton Cen­tre in Or­ton Gold­hay, both of which are si­t­u­ated within shops that are set to close in com­ing months.

If you are able to con­duct the busi­ness and com­mu­nity as­pects of your life on­line, feel con­fi­dent trans­act­ing with ma­chines in­stead of peo­ple, cheek­ily use your work­place’s mail­ing sys­tem to send and re­ceive pack­ages, don’t claim any ben­e­fits and never need to send parcels then you may be won­der­ing what the fuss is about.

But, if you are re­liant on the Post Of­fice to pay your bills, with­draw cash and stay in touch then the loss of a lo­cal Post Of­fice can be dev­as­tat­ing.

There is an­other, grow­ing, group of residents who will strug­gle to make a liv­ing, feed their fam­i­lies and heat their homes if our com­mu­nity Post Of­fices are lost.

This is the grow­ing army of sole traders and small busi­ness own­ers who work from home in the heart of our lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties.

The Fed­er­a­tion of Small Busi­nesses says there are 3.4mil­lion sole pro­pri­etor­ships in the UK, while the com­bined an­nual turnover of our small busi­nesses is £1.9tril­lion.

Small busi­nesses are re­spon­si­ble for 51 per cent of all pri­vate sec­tor turnover in the UK.

If lo­cal Post Of­fices dis­ap­pear many lo­cal small busi­nesses will strug­gle to con­tinue trad­ing.

I spoke to a Peter­bor­ough res­i­dent who runs her own busi­ness from home, sell­ing hand­i­crafts on­line.

She de­scribed a very busy life (she has three chil­dren and an­other on the way).

She vis­its her lo­cal Post Of­fice (one of the ones in Or­ton that is set to close) ev­ery day to ship goods to her cus­tomers.

With­out easy ac­cess to a lo­cal Post Of­fice how is her busi­ness to sur­vive?

The clo­sure of com­mu­nity Post Of­fices re­sults in more and longer car jour­neys.

The near­est Post Of­fice to those clos­ing in Or­ton is in Or­ton Longueville on a small pa­rade of shops in an other­wise res­i­den­tial street. How will that neigh­bour­hood cope with the in­flux of ad­di­tional traf­fic?

At time of writ­ing there has been no word from Post Of­fice Coun­ters Ltd on whether they will con­tinue to pro­vide ser­vices at the two lo­ca­tions in Or­ton soon to be lost. Mean­while, residents and small busi­ness own­ers wait anx­iously to hear whether life is about to be­come far more dif­fi­cult.

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