Wiltshire Publications

Community’s concern about the lack of main town post office

This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 7th, 2017 at 10:47 am.

LOCAL businesses and groups representing elderly and disadvantaged people  have joined residents in expressing their concern about the impact caused by the closure  of the main post office in Westbury.

Since the main post office on Kingfisher Drive officially closed its doors on 3rd October, local people have been forced to travel to The Ham and nearby villages to carry out important errands.

And for services not offered in Post Office local branches, customers have had to travel to Trowbridge and Warminster.

The lack of a post office in the town has left many local people unhappy, particularly in the run up to Christmas.

Vulnerable residents such as the elderly, people with disabilities, those on low income or those without their own private transport have been particularly hard hit.

On the White Horse News Facebook page, local woman Susan Alexander said, “Total disgrace to the town folk of Westbury, especially the old and disabled.”

Concerned

Westbury Welfare of the ElderlyAssociation, chairman Sue Ezra said, “The elderly are very concerned, particularly those that don’t have transport,” while Mayor cllr Gordon King commented, “It is very sad that we don’t have a main post office. Whilst the vast majority of pensioners now have their pensions paid directly into their bank accounts, there are some emergency situations where people are given cheques for their benefits. With the loss of the main post office service to pay these cheques in, using a checking account, pensioners are at a disadvantage. So there is clearly a need for a main post office in the town.

Options

“The town council do have a working party that are looking at options for the town and are willing to work with any interested parties. This issue has caused strong debate in the town and the council has warmly welcomed ideas for how this can be resolved. I would encourage anyone to come forward with their ideas to the council.”

Local businesses have also expressed their concern about the difficulties of accessing post office services. Owner of Rose’s Gardening and Fences Services, Ellen Rose said, “The lack of a main post office inWestbury is not ideal for businesses in the area. The services we would normally access are not available in the smaller local branches, meaning we have to travel further out of town, which is an inconvenience and uses up a lot of our time.

“I do really appreciate the help that the local branches offer, they are doing their best to support the town. Sometimes what we require from the local post office can take some time to process, meaning that other customers have to wait longer to be served. Also, with more customers using these stores, we sometimes get caught in long queues, which again impacts our working hours.

“There should be more support given to these local branches. The PostOffice knew that the main branch was closing and had plenty of time to prepare.More support and training should have been given.”

Whilst the lack of a main post office in the town has inconvenienced local residents and businesses, the closure has seen a dramatic rise in customers for the local branches in the area, with mixed results.

Manager of the The Ham PostOffice, Sri Karuppiah, said, “We have struggled with the extra business. Nothing was pre-planned by the PostOffice to prepare us for the closure of the main branch. I have spoken several times to them too, but so far have had no response.

Frustrating

“It is frustrating for us and the customers as we are limited as a local post office with the services we offer. We do get people enquiring about car tax or wanting to apply for, or renew, their passports, but that’s something we can’t do. People are disappointed, especially after queuing up to be served. The extra work and long queues is also impacting my other business as I only have one counter to serve everyone.”

“Ihave suggested to the Post Office that The Ham Post Office be upgraded to the main post office for Westbury. This would mean extra counters and more staff and all the services that the community is wanting. I have to wait for the PostOffice to decide, but so far I have heard nothing.”

Dilton Marsh Post Office, which is run by Fairfield Farm College, has welcomed the increase in footfall to their store. Vice-principal, Debbie Farley said, “Our post office is really busy, which is marvellous for us as prior to the closure of the main post office, we were trading at a significant loss. We have lots of new customers, are constantly busy and postal collections have been increased to twice a day.

“As a single counter post office, this does mean that queues can sometimes build in the shop and our regular DiltonMarsh customers have to wait a bit longer to be served. But we are committed to providing an excellent service to our customers.

“With the increase in demand, we have had to grow and rise to the challenge, with very little corporate support. It would be nice to maybe have some relief staff provided by the Post Office to cope with the extra customers.

“We have noticed the struggle that local businesses are having to access the services that they need. For example, as part of the Post Office Local business model we are unable to provide change or accept large amounts of change, which is something a lot of local businesses have been contacting us for.

“We will try and help anyone that comes to the store. I have told all the staff to not turn anyone away if they ask for something that we wouldn’t normally do, instead we try and see if there is a way we can help them.”

Manager of Bratton Post Office, Johanna Hornbuckle added, “We welcome the extra business, it has been a bit more busy since the closure, but we aren’t complaining.

“We have noticed some customers coming to the shop for services that we don’t offer, but there haven’t been that many.”

A Post Office spokesperson said, “We are committed to maintaining a Post Office in this area of Westbury. The vacancy was advertised and we have an interested applicant. Any re-location would be subject to public consultation. We are not yet in a position to begin any consultation. We apologise for any inconvenience caused by the temporary closure of the branch. We are working hard to restore Post Office service to the area as soon as possible.

“The majority of services that were available at Westbury Post Office  are available at the nearest post offices of Bratton, The Ham and Dilton Marsh. Bratton already offers the car tax renewal service, drop and go, Parcelforce Express Services, Euros on demand and National Express tickets.  A wide range of currencies can be pre-ordered and delivered to all three local branches. The full range of services that  Westbury Post Office offered are available at College Road (Trowbridge) and Warminster.”

The full addresses of the branches in the area are: · The Ham Post Office, 50 The Ham, Westbury, BA13 4HD · Bratton Post Office,  Hillworth Stores, Bratton, Westbury, BA13 4RW  · Dilton Marsh Post Office, Fairfield Farm College, 43 High Street, Dilton Marsh, Westbury, BA13 4DL  · Warminster Post Office, WH Smith, 6 – 10 The Mall, Warminster, BA12 9BT.

One Response to Community’s concern about the lack of main town post office

  1. Cheryl

    November 9, 2017 at 8:16 am

    A post office in Westbury is very important for businesses in Westbury and to keep the community together. Westbury is slowly dying with no heart and merely a commuting town for other large thriving towns.

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