NORTHFIELD Road’s Post Office service is to be expanded just two years after residents campaigned against a move that would have seen it reduced.
The Post Office is to open a modernised ‘main’ post office at the branch in Tesco Express on Friday, September 16, at 1pm.
The modernisation comes two years after residents launched a petition to stop proposals to combine the Post Office counters with grocery tills.
Residents argued that elderly people would have to travel to the Broadway for a full counter service and that the new system would be confusing and increase queue times.
And, following a public consultation, Tesco shelved the plans.
Thatcham resident Christopher Brooks, who criticised the merger, welcomed news of the expansion.
He said: “It appears that this is relatively good news for the Northfield Road Post Office.
“We can only wait and see if it is a better service but it is certainly better than the plan suggested earlier.
“Perhaps the management have realised that they need to provide a good public service.”
The service will be open from 8am until 8pm Monday to Sunday. The move represents the branch being open an extra 35 hours a week, which Post Office local communications manager Joe Chapman said supported “an important community service”.
Post Office services will be provided from one full-screened and open-plan counter.
Car tax and a selection of on-demand travel money will be added to services currently available.
The branch will close for refurbishment at 5.30pm on Wednesday, August 31.
Alternative branches include Thatcham Post Office in the Broadway and Cold Ash Post Office, Cold Ash Hill.
Thatcham town councillors welcomed news of the upgrade at a meeting on Monday but raised concerns about parking.
Ellen Crumly (Con, Thatcham Central) said: “I think it’s obviously going to be a good thing for the community.
“My only concern is parking, which is already bad, and I think we ought to get clarification that they are not taking away any spaces.”
Lee Dillon (Lib Dem, Thatcham North) agreed. “I think we should welcome it,” he said.
“We had a round of post office closures and it survived the cull. Having it upgraded should be welcomed.”
Mr Dillon added his concerns around parking, saying that it became a dangerous area during school term time.
He asked that West Berkshire Council enforcement officers visit the area more frequently after the post office reopens in September.
The MP for Newbury Richard Benyon said he was delighted to see the changes being introduced.
He added that it was a sign of Government investment starting to pay dividends.