A VITAL convenience store in Baildon centre is to close leaving the town needing “to pull out all the stops” to avoid the disappearance of Post Office facilities.

Retailer McColl’s revealed its Martin’s store, on Northgate, will shut in just over three months’ time.

A spokesperson for the company said: “Having explored all options, regretfully we have taken the difficult decision to cease trading at the McColl’s store in Baildon.

“The store’s last day of trading will be the 23rd of October 2020.

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

There is widespread concern in Baildon about the decision, with a protest set up in response.

Not only is it the loss of a high-profile business, but it puts into question the future of a central Post Office.

Martin’s remained the only place in the centre of Baildon to access financial facilities after Santander pulled out of the town back in September 2018.

This was despite a protest which gained around 550 signatures, and the new petition - which is demanding the Post Office to maintain a viable presence in the centre - has been signed by 546 people already.

A Post Office spokesperson said: “The operator for Baildon Post Office has resigned and the premises that we do not own, will be withdrawn for Post Office in October 2020.

“The store will also be closing.”

Baildon is a community of more than 16,000, with a high proportion of elderly people.

Councillor Debbie Davies (Con, Baildon) said the move would leave residents with a long walk down a steep hill in order to get to their nearest Post Office, despite maps giving the impression it is “close by”.

She said: “It hasn’t been there that long and there used to be a post office on Westgate.

“I think the main concern is businesses use it to get their change and for banking.

“I’ve heard today (Thursday) from two businesses that they are really worried about it, just in terms of keeping the centre alive.”

Baildon Labour Party branch secretary Peter Ashton said: “The loss of a further valuable service to the people of Baildon cannot be allowed to happen.

“It is particularly important at this difficult time for our businesses that key facilities are not lost to them.

“We call upon the Post Office management to honour its promise in 2015, when it moved the facility into Martin’s, that the town centre would continue to have a viable provision, by seeking alternative accommodation vigorously.”

Cllr Davies said she knew of some who were interested and that she had invited a contact from the Post Office to visit the town to speak to them and see why it was so important to have a presence in the centre.

She said: “There’s only three months really, because then you need to think about the basics and training and everything. It’s vital that we get somebody in.”

Both Cllr Davies and Mr Ashton have urged people to get in touch if they are interested in incorporating a Post Office into their premises.

The Post Office said any retailer who wanted to do this should email ND.enquiries@postoffice.co.uk, or ring 0333 345 5560, then select option 2.