WELLINGTON could be left without a town centre Post Office unless a new host is found.

The One Stop is set to close within the next three months, leaving the Post Office with nowhere to trade.

Wellington East councillor Keith Wheatley says he has been liaising with the Post Office and possible host businesses who might take over from September, but says the outlook is gloomy.

He said: “The Post Office is certain that taking on an empty shop and making it a sole business is a financial model that just doesn’t work any more. The margins are too small and the overheads too high.

“I’ve had discussions with WH Smith and H T Perry & Son about the possibilities of integrating the town post office into their shops but both firms have clear reasons why it wouldn’t be possible for them."

An alternative host would need both large premises and a high customer footfall to be viable.

Ian Sanders, group commercial development director for WH Smith, said: “We have reviewed the Wellington branch WHSmith store layout and its existing store trading intensity. Unfortunately this is a particularly small store that also has a well above average sales per square foot.

“As such on this occasion it would not be commercially viable to reduce the WHSmith selling space and indeed the store simply wouldn’t be able to cope with the additional footfall. I only wish the store had been larger and I could have given you a more positive response to try and help safeguard the future of the Post Office for this community.”

Fern Perry, manager of the Fore St ironmongers, has also been asked to consider taking on the Post Office.

She said: “I’d like to say Yes but financially we can’t even consider it.

“We’d have to pay 50 per cent of the cost of a very expensive fit-out of the shop next door and then employ a minimum of two extra staff, who’d need specialised training. The turnover and profit level that the Post Office was forecasting just couldn’t cover it."

The Post Office says it is still trying to find a solution.

Stuart Taylor, external relations manager., said: “The fact that we have been advertising the opportunity to local retailers without success suggests that they have no plans to take-up the opportunity.

“I can assure you that we are committed to Post Office services in the centre of Wellington.”