Wed, 12 Oct 2016
NEWBURY town councillors have raised concerns over the accessibility of Newbury’s post office, should it be moved from its current location in Cheap Street to WH Smith in Northbrook Street.
Currently there is a bus stop directly outside the Cheap Street building, but the nearest bus stop to Northbrook Street is more than 200 yards away, potentially making it less accessible to those with mobility issues.
The proposals to move the service were raised at a meeting of the town council’s planning and highways committee this week, with councillors raising a number of issues with the mooted move.
Town councillor and former Post Office employee Kuldip Singh Kang (Con, Falkland) said he understood why it had to move but admitted to having concerns over accessibility.
He said: “Having worked there for 10 years, I can say they have tried really hard to keep the post office open.
“They have spent a lot of money on it, they revamped it and offered voluntary redundancy to experienced staff to try and get costs down.
“The footfall has fallen so much, if it was any other business it would have closed down by now.
“Personally, I would have liked to see it moved to the Kennet Centre.
“If it’s moved to WH Smith it doesn’t really help the elderly, so I do have concerns over that.
“The problem is there’s no bus stop.”
Adrian Edwards (Con, Falkland) pointed out there were bus stops in Park Way and raised the possibility that discussions could be had with bus companies to drop passengers closer.
As well as accessibility issues, Elizabeth O’Keeffe (Lib Dem, Victoria) also raised concerns over running the service from the WH Smith store.
“From my perspective I’ve never been in there when there hasn’t been a queue,” she said.
“I can’t see how the current Smith’s store can accommodate the full range of services.”
The Post Office insists there would be no job losses or redundancies and opening hours would also stay the same, if the proposals were to go ahead.
However, it is unclear what would happen to the Victorian Grade II-listed building, which opened in November 1896.
An extension to the original building was made circa 1929 by Hoskings & Pond, including a telephone exchange. Further extensions were added in the mid and late-20th century.
Customers have until November 2 to have their say on the proposals via the public consultation.
Visit www.postofficeviews.co.uk, email firstname.lastname@example.org or send views by post. You can also telephone 03457 22 33 44 (Textphone 03457 22 33 55).