Post Office Concerns

By bellmannews / June 24, 2023

Sent on behalf of Andrew Bowie MP

A Mearns town must not lose out on accessible Post Office and fuel services because of competition laws, the local MP has warned.

The Kirkton Road petrol station and convenience store in Stonehaven incorporates a sub-Post Office which is open five days a week.

The former Co-op was bought by Asda in October last year — before the supermarket giant was told its acquisition of 132 British petrol stations could lead to a “substantial lessening” of competition.

West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine MP Andrew Bowie asked the Competition and Markets Authority to consider the impact to local services without an operator for Kirkton Road.

He argued Post Office “outreach” facilities in the town centre, which recently moved to DE Shoes, are limited to Thursdays and Fridays from 10am to 1pm.

And Morrisons’ plans to open a new supermarket with a petrol station have been delayed.

The Conservative MP has been told Asda has undertaken to sell the premises on again — one of 13 petrol stations across the UK.

The authority said: “Although the CMA found a realistic prospect of a substantial lessening of competition in relation to road fuel at Stonehaven, and not in relation to the retail supply of groceries or the supply of post office services, Asda has confirmed that it intends to divest the post office to a purchaser approved by the CMA, along with the retail fuel site and attached grocery store at Stonehaven.

“The sale process is still ongoing.”

Mr Bowie said: “Over the last few years, Stonehaven has seen a lot of upheaval in terms of access to Post Office services.

“It’s been quite clear that a town of 12,000 people is more than big enough to need Kirkton Road open as well as the outreach which I’m delighted is now in Evan Street.

“So there’s a potential issue there, quite apart from the wider competitive picture, that Asda are now having to sell the Kirkton Road premises, presumably with its sub-Post Office.

“My hope is that any prospective buyer will keep services intact, because we don’t want to see a return to the queues of winter 2020 when only one provider was left in town.”