Urgent petition to save Martin’s newsagents and Post Office in Dunstable

Customers are rallying round to save Martin’s newsagents and Post Office, thanks to a determined Dunstable street trader who has started a petition.

Harvey Blake, who runs a menswear stall, created the campaign last Monday after hearing that the Ashton Square shop, which is run by McColl’s, was planning to close early next year.

Martin's. Credit: Harvey Blake.

Martin's. Credit: Harvey Blake.

Upset at the thought of another shop going, Mr Blake handed the petition to staff at the newsagents and post office, and it has already attracted around 300 signatures from customers.

Mr Blake claimed: “Another shop closing is not good for the town. It’s struggling anyway.

“What about the staff who will be made redundant? And what about the elderly? It’s not going to help.

“Why should people lose their jobs for all the service they have given to the community?

“The elderly rely on the shop, as they can’t walk very far.

“It will also be a devastating blow to the street traders in the area.”

McColl’s has the franchise for its Dunstable Post Office and also employs the staff who run it.

A source alleged that five or six jobs would be lost at Martin’s newsagents and Post Office, claiming the closure was due to high rent and rates.

There is another Post Office at Queensway, near Asda, but Mr Blake claimed that this is too far for residents to walk, and could make them a vulnerable target of crime if they have to travel a longer distance by themselves.

He said: “Going down towards Asda is so dangerous, going over that main road.

“There is a crossing but it’s too long for the elderly; they can’t walk fast. Lots of people have been hit there.

“There’s a crossing at the front of the shop and one further down. Cars drive over when people are still in the road.”

The petition has been on a counter at the shop for customers to sign and Mr Blake hopes it can save it.

A Post Office staff member at Martin’s said: “It’s been popular so far. It’s got over 300 signatures. We’ve got to try something, haven’t we?

“Everyone seems determined to keep it open.

“This is a little community here, and you see the same faces on a regular basis. It (the closure) will make a really big difference to some people.

“Harvey has been a fantastic support to us and thank you to everyone who has supported the petition. I really hope it makes a difference.”

Mr Blake added: “Thank you to all the people that have signed the petition and supported them.

“If you haven’t signed, please could you do so?”

A McColl’s Retail Group spokesperson said: “Having explored all options, regretfully we have taken the difficult decision not to renew the lease at the McColl’s store on 17 Ashton Square, Dunstable.

“The store will continue to trade until February 2020.

“We are saddened to no longer be operating the store and our priority has been to support all affected colleagues.”

A Post Office spokesperson said: “The operator for Ashton Square Post Office has resigned and the premises that we do not own, will be withdrawn for Post Office in February 2020. The date has not been finalised. The shop where the Post Office is based is also closing.

“Any retailer interested in incorporating a Post Office in their premises should email ND.enquiries@postoffice.co.uk or 0333 345 5560.”

What do you think about the closure of the newsagents and post office? Email: editorial@lutonnews.co.uk