AN MP is fighting for a Post Office which is planned to be relocated into a shopping centre.

At the end of April, plans were announced to move the site of Darlington's Crown Street Post Office to WHSmith inside the Cornmill Shopping centre.

Officials said the branch would be run by WHSmith, with extended opening hours, including Saturday afternoons and Sundays.

They added it will have its own area within the store with five serving positions and four self-service kiosks.

Following the announcement, Darlington MP Jenny Chapman met with the Post Office's Director of Sales and Network in Parliament to ask questions put to her by concerned residents.

In an update after the talks, Ms Chapman said the move into WHSmith, if confirmed, would happen at the end of July.

She added that if WHSmith wishes to close in future they will be obliged to continue to provide the Post Office service for 18 months.

After that, if they fail to do so, the Post Office then must ensure full services are available within half a mile of 95 per cent of the population.

The move will also mean that 14 jobs at the current Post Office, including one manager, two full-time and 11 part-time staff, will be offered a transfer to WHSmith, redeployment or a severance package.

Ms Chapman said she is in contact with unions such as Unite to see what support may be offered to staff should the move go ahead.

She said: “Another main issue is about accessibility and how close you can park to any new site for people who are less mobile.

“The big thing for me is about the future of the building. It’s a case of what’s going to happen with that.

“We know through the campaign for Crown Street Library that that area of town is very special to people.

“For me we have got to safeguard the street state of Crown Street. Whatever happens next to that building has to be in keeping with that part of town.

"It's regrettable, but it’s essential that we keep the Post Office legally accountable and make sure their full services are provided within half a mile of 95 per cent of the population, which in this case is Darlington town centre."