A CHESTER group is looking to open a new community hub following the loss of its local post office branch.

The McColls Martin's newsagents on the corner of Queen's Park Road and Handbridge closed its doors for the last time on July 19. As the Handbridge Post Office was based in the newsagents, the area also lost its local post office.

The nearest Post Office branches for Handbridge residents are now in Chester city centre, in the WH Smith store on Foregate Street, or at the Co-op store in Five Ashes Road, Westminster Park.

No other business in the area has yet shown an interest in taking over the Handbridge Post Office.

As a result, Handbridge Community Association (HCA) is looking in to the possibility of opening a community hub, incorporating a Post Office, in the now-empty premises at 1 Queens Park Road.

The group says the main purpose of this hub would be to provide postal and banking services for the area. It is planned that it could also be a Handbridge Information Centre, with information on all the groups, activities and attractions in the area.

In addition, the hub could be a local meeting point for friends and groups, with drinks supplied by one of the existing cafes. Local politicians could hold their surgeries there and local artists could display and possibly sell their works.

The HCA stresses there is absolutely no intention to compete with any of the existing businesses in Handbridge, as any additional services sold in the hub would be unique to the area.

HCA has delivered a survey to all 2,100 households in the area, asking for people's opinions on the idea.

So far, there have been over 300 replies, with almost all in favour. Many respondents have been offering help both financially and organisationally.

If anybody's survey form is still waiting collection or they need another one, they can email savehandbridgepostoffice@yahoo.com

Negotiations are now going on with the landlords of the property, Cheshire West and Chester Council, to rent the empty premises and with the Post Office to set up a new branch.

As HCA is now able to hold meetings without restrictions, the AGM will be held on Tuesday, August 3, starting at 6pm. It will be held at the St Mary's Handbridge Centre on Overleigh Road. Items on the agenda include the campaign to keep a Post Office in Handbridge and the Handbridge Christmas Market.