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Kingsclere post office move could lead to job losses

Villagers and councillors vow to fight 'tooth and nail' to oppose plans

Jane Meredith

Reporter:

Jane Meredith

Kingsclere post office move could lead to job losses

KINGSCLERE villagers and councillors are opposing proposals to move the village post office to shared premises within a shop, with the likely loss of several jobs.

The plans by the Post Office to move the George Street post office into Swan Street Stores – which is open seven days a week – met mostly strong opposition at a Kingsclere Parish Council meeting last Monday.

If the move went ahead, chairman John Sawyer said travel insurance would not be available, while the two till points at George Street would be reduced to justone.

There are also concerns about parking on the busy Swan Street.

The possibility of reserving three spaces in the Anchor Road car park for post office users was met with derision from villager Alan Gore, who pointed out the misuse of disabled spaces at the village health centre.

Parish councillor Fiona Sawyer said the stores would be crowded, with no dropped kerbs outside for wheelchair access.

The social aspect would be lost and another aspect of village life whittled down.

“These are bland decisions made by someone who doesn’t even know where Kingsclere is, let alone the post office,” said Mrs Sawyer.

“It’s just someone sitting in an office thinking it’s a good idea.

“I think we should fight tooth and nail to keep the post office where it is.”

But parish councillor Mick Fahey warned: “We have to be careful.

“If  we oppose the move we could lose it.”

Parish councillor Nicola Peach pointed out the advantages of longer, evening opening hours for those who worked during the day.

Another councillor, Sue Adams, expressed concerns that the Swan Street building was listed and planning permission would be required.

Borough councillor Ken Rhatigan (Con Kingsclere) highlighted the lack of security within an open till area and said that the postmistress of three decades would lose her job in the move.

After the meeting, Mr Rhatigan told the Newbury Weekly News that two other jobs would be lost in the move.

The Post Office has stated opening hours would more than double in the move, with services available an extra 59.5 hours per week, including all day on Sunday.

It would also see an end to lunchtime closing as part of a major modernisation programme.

Historically, the post office was sited on Swan Street 16 years ago – and moved to George Street because the former premises proved to be too small.

Kingsclere Parish Council decided to write to the Post Office with its concerns and views.

n The public consultation about the proposed move of Kingsclere Post Office to Swan Street Stores runs until September 23.

To make a comment, call  03457 223344,  email comments@postoffice.co.uk , or post to FREEPOST Your Comments (full address) no later than two working days before the closing date.

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