Anger over post office move
PUBLISHED: 12:26 13 July 2006 | UPDATED: 10:28 06 May 2010
PLANS to move a central Post Office to a franchise in a convenience store away from main bus stops have been universally slammed. The Post Office announced this week that it wants to move its branch in Broadway, Letchworth GC, to the McColl s shop at the
PLANS to move a central Post Office to a franchise in a convenience store away from main bus stops have been universally slammed.
The Post Office announced this week that it wants to move its branch in Broadway, Letchworth GC, to the McColl's shop at the far end of Station Road on the outskirts of the town centre.
It claims that the move will benefit customers with longer opening hours but the move has been strongly criticised.
Concerns have been voiced about moving the branch away from its convenient location and also that the smaller branch in McColl's would not be big enough.
William Armitage from David's Books branded the move a "backward step".
He said: "The point is they've already closed the Corner Post Office on the basis that there was a good central post office.
"If they stop having a good central post office they've really let everyone down."
Stuart Kenny, director general of Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation, said the Foundation was "surprised and very disappointed" by the plans.
Mr Kenny added: "Clearly, the proposals follow a national trend in post offices moving into retail space.
"However, Letchworth Garden City's main post office is currently in a very prominent location, and has always been a highly popular destination for Letchworthians.
"I cannot recall visiting it myself without having to join a lengthy queue."
Mr Kenny did admit that the Foundation had previously expressed an interest in buying the current post office building, as it wanted to buy the adjacent parcels office site, and was told the Post Office would rather sell both sites as one.
But he was keen to stress that the Foundation has not bought the building and said that it "will be interested to find out what the Post Office plans to do with it".
He said that had the Foundation bought the site, the post office would have remained where it was or at least have been relocated to an equivalent modern unit nearby.
Mr Kenny added: "The town needs a suitably sized post office in a central location."
A spokesman for the Post Office said that it had gone into partnership with TM Retail, which runs McColl's, because they wanted to "secure the long term future of the post office".
He said that the directly managed network of branches, which includes the current Letchworth GC branch, had lost £50million last year and unless the Post Office acted, it would result in post office closures. The spokesman confirmed that the Letchworth branch did make a loss but refused to confirm how much it was.
He added: "Franchising has been done on many occasions over a number of years and we have a number of franchises in various parts of the country which have proved effective and popular."
o The Post Office is seeking feedback on the plans with regard to opening hours, access arrangements and facilities available. Make your views known to: Tony Marsh, Network Service Manager, Post Office Ltd, c/o National Consultation Team, PO Box 2060, Watford, WD18 8ZW by Tuesday, August 29.
* “I’m very angry about it because we’ve only just got our pensions here. It’s only the last year or so that we’ve gone off the book and into the post office. It would be too far for a lot of people. Here they get off the bus and go right into the post office.” Harry King
* “It’s not a very good idea. This is ideal, it’s right in town. You come straight from Morrison’s and go straight across which I very often do. It would be very awkward. When you think I’ve forgotten a stamp’ it’s very handy to pop into.” Vera Hensby
* “That’s no good at all. I couldn’t cope with it. They can’t cope here sometimes, they have a queue. The queues are outside the shop at the present moment.” Wally Bennett
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