Up yours Letchworth: Public ignored as Post Office snub protest

LETCHWORTH GC is to lose its central post office after its owners rode roughshod over public opinion, it was revealed this week. Post Office Ltd has decided to move the town s branch to a franchise in McColl s in Station Road, despite opposition from res

LETCHWORTH GC is to lose its central post office after its owners rode roughshod over public opinion, it was revealed this week.

Post Office Ltd has decided to move the town's branch to a franchise in McColl's in Station Road, despite opposition from residents, councillors, Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation and MP Oliver Heald.

The Comet ran an extensive campaign to save the post office after our readers told us that McColl's was too far away from the town centre and bus stops and would struggle to accommodate the number of customers.

Letchworth Garden City Council, Mr Heald, Stuart Kenny, director general of the Heritage Foundation and representatives from consumer group Postwatch all met with Post Office Ltd managers to try to persuade them to scrap the move.

The Heritage Foundation warned that as part of its plans to redevelop the town centre, McColl's was likely to be subject to a compulsory purchase order (CPO) and tried to find alternative accommodation, but to no avail.

The Post Office maintains that the move will improve services to disabled customers and will offer extended opening hours, as well as helping ease its financial problems, but the decision has been universally slammed.

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A spokesman for the Post Office said it could not afford to delay the move because of its financial situation.

And Tony Marsh, network service manager, said if the Heritage Foundation issued a CPO, Post Office Ltd and Martin McColl, the owner of McColl's, would "work together to make alternative arrangements for the branch".

He added: "Our directly-managed branches are losing £50m per year and we have no option but to make changes to our network."

"The Heritage Foundation has fought long and hard to find an alternative to the move from Broadway to McColl's in Station Road.

"Indeed, we have been both proactive and innovative in offering both the Post Office and McColl's tangible solutions, which, for their own reasons, they have felt unable to accept.

"The plain fact is that Post Office Ltd was determined to move from a directly-managed to a franchised environment.

"Unfortunately, their franchise partner of choice - McColl's - was not interested in the property we offered them in the heart of the town centre."

Stuart Kenny, Director General Heritage Foundation

"There doesn't seem to be anyone in Letchworth GC who believes the proposals are workable.

"We are disappointed that Post Office Ltd have gone through a consultation in which we know most if not all the comments were against the proposals, and they have not taken any notice of what anyone has said."

Cllr Lynda Needham, North Herts District Council

"We're disappointed to see that the Post Office has come to this conclusion."

Richard Bowran, clerk to Letchworth Garden City Town Council

"I think it's a disgraceful decision which ignores the interests and views of people in Letchworth and that personally I am extremely annoyed that the managing director of the Post Office hasn't even replied to my request for a high level meeting about this.

"This is a decision which also ignores the interests of the elderly who are major customers of the Post Office and will now be put to a great inconvenience.

Oliver Heald MP

"Customers in Letchworth GC can be assured that we will closely monitor service and access levels at the new site and will not hesitate to challenge Post Office Ltd should these fall below standards."

Dr Charles Winstanley, regional chairman

Postwatch in the East of England