Anger over decision to close Whitley Bay store

McColl's store in Park Avenue, Whitley Bay.
McColl's store in Park Avenue, Whitley Bay.

Angry residents have hit out at a national store chain for deserting Whitley Bay.

Criticism has been directed at McColl’s for its decision to turn its back on local people by closing its store in Park Avenue, and with it the post office.

The company, which acquired 298 Co-ops around the country in a £117million deal, took over the store in July 2016.

But now it is expected to close at the beginning of December and the post office before Christmas – leaving the town without a post office and people out of work.

Whitley Bay ward councillor Margaret Hall has hit out at the decision.

She said: “It is a disgrace that a company with a £1billion turnover doesn’t have the decency to delay its departure by even a few weeks so that local business people and residents can get through their busiest time of the year. And so that their staff might have their local jobs at least until the New Year.

“McColl’s is not a small business, they are a vast national chain and they seem to just not care.

“It is a cruel decision of the very worst kind.

“I accept McColl’s may have found business a little tougher here, they are opposite a late opening Sainsbury’s and we already have excellent modern Co-ops and several hard-working smaller grocers.

“But I do not accept for one minute that gives a big profitable company the right to force the closure of our very busy post office at its busiest time of year.”

“Over the next six weeks, hundreds of small local businesses need to post out thousands of internet orders and now they will have to completely replan their trade.

“And of course, many of us rely on the post office for our banking, pensions and specialised services.

“It is no exaggeration to say, the post office is the heart of every community – we all need our post office.”

Coun Hall and her colleagues have met with officials from North Tyneside Council and the Post Office to find a new site for the Post Office.

Coun Hall said: “There are a number of mobile facilities which the post office can bring into an area in these circumstances but they are huge.

“So we are trying to identify a site, as central as possible, which also has access to power, water and appropriate cabling.

“It’s a tall order and it may mean we are without a post office this Christmas. But we are working hard to lend every assistance.

“Whitley Bay is a town on the up: our people and our businesses are working together and reaching to achieve new heights. We won’t let this setback stop us.

“But I am still calling on McColl’s to think again, and to at least help us through the Festive Season by delaying their departure.”

A spokesman for McColl’s said: “Having explored all options, regretfully we have taken the difficult decision to cease trading at the McColl’s store on Park Avenue in Whitley Bay.

“The store’s last day of trading will be December 2, however, we will continue to run the Post Office until December 17.

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