Calls for emergency post office in Stevenage Old Town

PUBLISHED: 06:57 25 November 2019

Councillors heard that an application for a new Old Town facility is under consideration. Picture: Maya Derrick

Councillors heard that an application for a new Old Town facility is under consideration. Picture: Maya Derrick

Archant

Councillors have led calls for an emergency post office in Stevenage Old Town, a month since the closure of the Waitrose branch.

Calls for a temporary facility came after Stevenage borough councillors heard that a new service may not be available in the Old Town until February 2020 - following a meeting of the environment and economy select committee on Wednesday night.

Labour councillor Lloyd Briscoe, executive member for economy, enterprise and transport, told the committee that an "application has been submitted" by a retailer for a new location, which is "currently being processed" - though it cannot yet be named.

Cllr Briscoe added that Post Office Limited have been "pro-actively working to secure provision" for a new facility since the Waitrose post office closed in October.

Councillors also highlighted the pressing need for erecting a temporary location, discussing the feasibility of a portacabin in the Primett Road car park, or the use of a mobile truck in the High Street.

Labour councillor Jim Brown - leading calls for the emergency service - said that Old Town residents "are already changing their habits," and "if this goes on any longer, it could be too late.

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"The post office is the only place where people can go in and bank. Particularly older people who don't necessarily use online banking,

"Why hasn't it happened in four weeks? This is genuinely an emergency. It's sounding like we're not going to see anything before February or March.

"What is happening about this emergency provision? Can't we even do it next week?"

A second councillor added his support, stressing that "there a a number of people who rely on the service".

"How can we have a settlement of 10,000 people with no post office or bank?" he said. "Why isn't there a porta cabin, sitting in Primett Road car park, right now?"

An Old Town resident who addressed the committee on Wednesday said the lack of a post office is "killing the community", adding that "she has no reason to get off the bus in the High Street anymore."

A spokesperson for Post Office Limited said: "We can confirm that we have a retailer who is applying to re-open High Street Stevenage at a new location.

"We understand how important a Post Office is to a community, and we would like to reassure customers that we are working hard to restore service as soon as possible".

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