ST NEOTS is set to lose its Crown Post Office in New Street in a bid by the Royal Mail to save money. The office will re-open 250 yards away in Martin s newsagent in the High Street following a period of public consultation on opening hours, access and fa

ST NEOTS is set to lose its Crown Post Office in New Street in a bid by the Royal Mail to save money.

The office will re-open 250 yards away in Martin's newsagent in the High Street following a period of public consultation on opening hours, access and facilities.

The Liberal Democrat group on the town council immediately condemned the move, complaining of another loss of amenity to the largest town in Cambridgeshire, following the closure of the Jobcentre and register office.

"We will be fighting this, root and branch," said Huntingdonshire Lib Dem agent Martin Land. "We are organising a petition, starting this weekend. Residents will also be able to sign the petition on our website, www.huntslibdems.org.uk. We are hoping to get at least 10,000 signatures.

"Anyone who knows the St Neots Post Office will know it is always busy."

He said the current facility - unlike Martin's - had good access for disabled people and convenient parking.

He believes the current site, together with the BT site, will be attractive for housing development in the town centre. "You end up with more houses and fewer facilities," he told The Hunts Post.

But Royal Mail spokesman James Taylor insisted the Crown facility was losing money. "It is not sustainable, and we have found that franchising is an effective alternative," he said.

The decision to franchise was a commercial one that was not open to discussion. Consultation on hours, access and facilities would continue until after the late summer bank holiday.

Mr Taylor said customers would benefit from extended opening hours of 8.30am-5.30pm on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and 9am-5.30pm on Tuesday and Saturday.

Disabled access would be part of the consultation, and Martin's would be required to comply with the Disability Discrimination Act.

Post Office Ltd's Network Service Manager, Tony Marsh, said it was good news for customers. TM Retail (Martin,s) was one of the UK's largest chains of newsagents, with more than 900 stores nationwide - 400 already incorporate a Post Office branch.

INFORMATION: Anyone wishing to comment should write to Tony Marsh, Network Service Manager, Post Office Ltd, c/o National Consultation Team, PO Box 2060, Watford WD18 8ZW, by Tuesday August 29.

n Is this another nail in the coffin for St Neots town centre.

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