Wiltshire Publications

Row erupts over co-op post office move

FOLLOWING months of behind the scenes discussion, the Co-op has emerged as the preferred site for the Post Office to re-open a main branch for Westbury.

A petition calling instead for a site in High Street to be found has already gathered over 1,000 signatures.
Mayor of Westbury cllr Sue Ezra supports the scheme, warning that failing to accept the proposals could leave the town without any post office at all.
She said, “People will get used to it. It’s not been in the town centre since it was moved to Coopers from its original spot .
“It costs over £100,000 to set up a post office and you’ve got to have an allied trade to go with it and big enough premises.”
Westbury has been without a main post office since the end of May when the previous branch, located in Coopers foodstore, closed when the store was sold to supermarket giants Morrisons.

Cllr Russell Hawker, chair of the new Westbury Area Board launched the petition calling for the post office to be found a suitable home in the town centre.
He said, “As far as I am concerned this is not the right location as it is edge-of-town, not town centre.
“We need to ensure that the post office occupies one of the empty shops in the town centre. Whilst I regret the delay that may occur to find someone prepared to run a post office in the town centre, it is worth waiting longer.”
Although nothing has been set in stone, Tim Martienssen, the interim head of regeneration at Wiltshire Council said that there was a slim chance that Westbury could become part of a new pilot scheme which sees local government services such as a Job Centre Plus, Citizen’s Advice Bureau and facilities for small businesses combined with the post office in the town centre.
The post office would be run by a private franchisee who would be paid by the council for any services it provided through the premises which Tim believed would make the proposition of a town centre branch far more of a viable option.

A six week period of public consultation was launched by the Post Office regarding its plans to re-open a post office branch in new premises at the Co-op.
Kathryn Alexander, field change advisor, Post Office Ltd said, “Our priority is to safeguard Post Office services to the local community in the longer term. The relocation of Edward Street Post Office branch allows us to restore access to Post Office services in the Westbury area, and to significantly improve existing facilities.
“We want our customers to understand why we are considering this move, the facilities the new service will offer and how they contact us with their views. In preparing our plan, we have considered information specific to the local area. This includes access to public transport, the route and access to the new location, local population figures and other facilities available in the area.”
The Post Office say that the Co-op location would allow customers to benefit from the following facilities at the new service:
• Flat level entry and a wide door at the entrance, beneficial to customers with mobility constraints .
• A brand new, modern, purpose-built serving counter, with low level facilities for those in wheelchairs.
• The availability of a large range of convenience goods within the premises.

Anyone wishing to comment on the proposals to re-open the service at Kingfisher Drive can write to Post Office Limited, c/o National Consultation Team, PO Box 2060, WATFORD, WD18 8ZW or e-mail consultation@postoffice.co.uk by the closing date of 20th August 2009.
At the end of the consultation period any feedback received from customers and local representatives will be reviewed before a final decision on this proposal is confirmed. If the decision is taken to proceed with the proposal, and subject to Co-operative Retail Services Ltd board approval, Post Office Ltd expect the new service to open during September 2009.