CONCERNS linger over the future of The Arcade in Littlehampton, following the grand opening of the town’s new post office.
The post office relocated from The Arcade to 20 Twenty Vision, in the High Street, last month, with the town’s mayor Joyce Bowyer officially opening the site on Monday.
However, town and district councillor Mike Northeast said since the Crown Post Office moved from The Arcade, there has been a noticeable drop in trade – something which he says could be the final nail in the coffin for the site.
He said: “The worrying aspect is that there is only six or seven years left on the lease of The Arcade.
“There is a real chance if the businesses do close that the owners of The Arcade could redevelop the site.
“We need to get on top of this now rather than wait to suffer the consequences.
“This could be the end of The Arcade. If it is not used and the businesses don’t survive then I think the owners will have a strong case for redevelopment.”
Cllr Northeast is urging people in the town to not forget about the businesses in The Arcade, claiming that footfall and trade is already ‘noticeably down’.
He added: “What I am disappointed with is that we knew this was coming. Why couldn’t we have put something in place to alleviate the problem?”
The Crown Post Office was moved following a six-week public consultation, as part of a major overhaul across the Post Office network designed to ensure branches are ‘sustainable, profitable and no longer reliant on Government funding’.
Opening hours at the new location are 9am to 6pm Monday to Saturday, giving 54 hours of service per week – eight and a half hours per week more than customers had at the previous site.
The new post office has four serving positions – a mixture of two screened and two open-plan counters.
It still offers the same range of products and services the old branch did.
The mayor said: “I hope the people of Littlehampton will get behind the team here and support the new post office, which will safeguard services in the area for the future.”
The new operators of the branch are a family-run opticians. They currently operate three other opticians and regard the post office as a ‘vital community service’.