AN INDEPENDENT consumer watchdog has added its opposition to the proposed new Post Office site in Letchworth. Postwatch East of England has voiced its concerns over Post Office Ltd s planned franchise of the town s post office. The shop the Post Office is
AN INDEPENDENT consumer watchdog has added its opposition to the proposed new Post Office site in Letchworth.
Postwatch East of England has voiced its concerns over Post Office Ltd's planned franchise of the town's post office.
The shop the Post Office is set to move to, McColl's, could be demolished as part of Letchworth GC Heritage Foundation's plans to redevelop the town centre.
The watchdog for postal services has appealed against the plans to move the Post Office on the grounds the transfer would not secure the retention of a main Post Office branch in Letchworth.
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Post Office Ltd argued during a meeting with Postwatch on August 30 that the risk of the building being demolished was very low as no Compulsory Purchase Order has been submitted yet.
However, Dr Charles Winstanley, regional chairman for Postwatch East of England, said: "Postwatch recognises that there is no confirmation of any Compulsory Purchase Order.
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"However it is not acceptable for Post Office Ltd to franchise branches into locations which have an uncertain future."
There are also strong doubts the proposed site will make adequate provision for the numbers wishing to use the Post Office and that proper provision can be made for disabled customers.
On Tuesday, Tony Marsh, Post Office network service manager, and Melanie Corfield, head of external relations at the Post Office, met with Stuart Kenny, director general of the Heritage Foundation, and Marilyn Hands, director of property for the Heritage Foundation, to discuss the future of the Post Office.
Mr Kenny said: "We outlined a few possibilities which would retain a Post Office presence in the heart of Letchworth GC town centre and these will be considered further by the Post Office.
"We have also asked Martin McColl for a further meeting because it is clear that a priority for the Post Office is to move from directly managed to a franchised environment.
"Given what we still regard as the inadequate location and size of their premises in Station Road in terms of accommodating the Post Office, and the proposed Compulsory Purchase Order, we want to explore with them possible relocation options."
Melanie Corfield said: "We have made no final decision yet but I think it's important that we underline that we are more than satisfied that our current plan will provide adequate Post Office services for Letchworth.
"We are quite content that our final proposal will meet the needs of Letchworth people.
"It's extremely important that we have a franchise proposal that meets that."
Dr Winstanley said: "It makes more sense to defer any transfer decisions until these plans are clearer, which is likely to be no later than January 2007, thus avoiding the risk of needing to relocate this Post Office twice in the space of two to three years.