PLANS which could see a post office make its home in a library will “fundamentally alter” the venue, campaigners say.

Prettygate’s post office had been functioning from inside McColl’s newsagents, in The Commons, Colchester, until last month when the shop closed its doors for good.

Earlier this year, when the closure was announced, a fight began to secure a new home for what was described as a “crucial facility”.

It is understood Prettygate library will host the post office.

The library was one of 25 which was earmarked for closure under Essex County Council’s plans to reshape the service.

But library campaign group Save Our Libraries Essex has criticised the move.


A spokesman said: “Although apparently temporary, we believe it will have a negative effect even in the short term on the library and its users, who have already lost so much of the service thanks to Covid-19 restrictions.

“At present, only four users are allowed in the building at any one time - this already creates some delay for library users at busier times, as well as pressure to leave as fast as possible.

“Once post office customers are added, library users and post office customers will be queuing together and competing for entry, which is worrying for both groups, especially as winter sets in and people are left waiting outside.

“If the post office were to remain in place once normal library services can resume and furniture is replaced the impact will be even more profound.

“Prettygate Library consists of a single room. A noisy and busy business in the middle of this modest space would fundamentally alter the essence and purpose of the library.”

It is understood the post office move will be reviewed at the end of the year.

Susan Barker, Essex County Council’s libraries boss said: “Essex Libraries are delighted to be working again with the post office and believe this is a positive partnership for Prettygate Library and the community.

“This will increase the footfall in our library and we will be encouraging all new customers to join the library so we can share with them the benefits of being a member.

“As with other public indoor settings there will be maximum numbers that can be allowed into the library at any one time to ensure that social distancing measures can be adhered to. Prettygate library has reopened for some time now and we have not encountered any issues with numbers. We regularly review the number of users allowed in our libraries at any one time, taking into consideration the spaces they are visiting and whether they are individuals or groups. We will continue to manage this in the same way in order to maintain social distancing and to make sure customers can continue to easily and safely access both services.”