'Yet another broken promise' as Stevenage Post Office faces uncertain future
PUBLISHED: 08:30 07 November 2018
The Post Office has been lambasted for "yet another broken promise" after it revealed plans to franchise the Stevenage town centre branch, prompting concern the main counter will close and services will instead be provided at a retailer's checkout.
The branch was moved in 2016 from the Westgate Shopping Centre to WHSmith in Queensway, where it currently has five serving positions and three self-service desks.
From February 14, the branch will transfer to WHSmith as a franchise and the service will continue to operate from the same premises, but the move has prompted alarm.
Sharon Taylor, leader of Stevenage Borough Council, said: “It is very disappointing that we see yet another broken promise from the Post Office.
“The changes proposed to close the main counter and only provide post office services at the checkout effectively downgrade our main Crown Post Office to nothing more than a sub-post office.
“We were told when the Post Office moved from Westgate into a main counter at WHSmith that this was a long-term solution and it is difficult to see how they can justify further downgrading the service when our Post Office is so busy at peak times.
“We also need to understand much more clearly what the impact will be on the Post Office staff and the terms and conditions of their employment.”
Councillor Taylor says the borough council has asked for a face-to-face meeting with the Post Office.
A Post Office spokesman said: “We’re proposing to franchise Stevenage Post Office to provide better sustainability for the future, so we can safeguard Post Office services for the long-term.
“Our network must evolve so that we can continue to respond to unprecedented changes on our high streets.
“When we move to a franchise arrangement services usually remain unchanged, and there will be longer opening hours for customers’ convenience, including Sundays.
“We take the utmost care supporting our staff and we are talking with them about the changes and their potential options.”
The Post Office is asking for feedback - not on its commerical decision but on aspects such as access to the premises. To register your views by November 28, visit postofficeviews.co.uk and search for the branch code 169129.