It is vitally important that Bridgwater retains its central centre post office

It is vitally important that Bridgwater retains its central centre post office, the town’s MP has declared.

Ian Liddell-Grainger says he has been alarmed by suggestions the Eastover premises could be turned into a tanning parlour.

And he has urged Post Office and Sedgemoor District Council officials to work together to ensure the facility is retained.

Plans have been submitted to convert most of the Eastover property while creating a small post office area within it.

But Mr Liddell-Grainger, the Conservative member for Bridgwater and West Somerset, says a small sub-office style operation would not meet the needs of local people or indeed businesses.

The Post Office’s current operator signalled his intention to relinquish the franchise at the end of last year. But as it is a main branch the arrangement is subject to 12 months’ notice, so the facility could not close until the end of October.

Post Office officials say that gives them breathing space to find a new operator for the service either at the current site or nearby premises. However the conversion plans appear to have taken them by surprise and they are now in discussions with the operator.

They have told Mr Liddell-Grainger there is ‘total commitment’ to providing services in Bridgwater and, says the MP he intends to hold them to that.

“If the post office has to move somewhere else then so be it, but I am adamant Bridgwater needs a full-size, fully-functioning office and I intend to do everything I can to ensure it retains one,” he said.

“Unfortunately far too many main post offices have been scaled down, usually on grounds of cost-cutting and greater efficiency with the actual level of public service given low priority.

“The result has been a rash of under-sized offices and innumerable customers suffering from lengthy queues and endless delays. I do not wish to see the change of circumstances in Bridgwater take as a signal to inflict that reduced level of service on the town.”