Well now we know…
After all the effort people made across Hampshire to argue for their local post offices, almost nothing has changed. Only one Post Office (Goodworth Clatford, near Andover) managed to get a reprieve. A branch in Whitbury which had been planned for outreach is being closed instead.
Here in the new Winchester constituency, all the efforts by local people have had some effect: the Littleton Post Office has managed to get a three month stay of execution until April 9th, 2008 to discuss whether some form of local funding could be arranged in order to keep the post office open. The Chandler’s Ford post office is being kept open until a replacement for the Fryern Hill post office has been found. The decision to replace Micheldever with an outreach service has gone to Postwatch for further discussion: we should see a plan shortly. Shawford will be closing within the next four weeks.
The fundamental issue remains the central Government decision to cut the national number of post offices by 2,500. As local people repeatedly made clear in their letters and submissions, these closures will have a serious impact on the elderly and vulnerable groups. It is very disappointing that all the input given by local people has had such a relatively small impact.
Full details of the closure decisions, as published on the Post Office website, are as follows:
Post Office® Chandler’s Ford branch
Respondents’ main concerns related to the impact of any change on the local community, particularly elderly people; the distance to alternative branches; the fact that the nearestalternative branch at Fryern Hill is currently closed, and proposals for future development in the area.
A review confirmed that there are two alternative branches within a mile of Chandlers Ford, the nearest alternative branch being Fryern Hill, which is temporarily closed – a situation that would be resolved before any closure of Chandlers Ford branch was undertaken. The second is Velmore.
While new developments are planned for the area, we still do not consider it feasible that three Post Office branches could be operated in a viable and therefore, sustainable way in the future.
Taking these and all other relevant factors into account, our decision is to proceed with the closure of Post Office® Chandlers Ford branch. No such closure will take place until a new Fryern Hill branch is in place.
Post Office® Littleton branch
During the local public consultation, the main comments received in respect of this branch related to vulnerable customer groups, the availability of parking at alternative branches and the ability of those branches to absorb additional customers. A proposal was also received from the local community regarding local funding for a service offering in the area.
We have carried out a further check on parking and can confirm that parking is available at both alternative branches. Service provision at those branches will also be revised where necessary.
Having considered this and all other relevant factors, Post Office Ltd has decided to confirm the closure of this branch. However, our view is that the proposal for local funding was sufficiently cogent that it is worth investigating further whether it may provide a viable basis for the provision of some form of local service in the area. Post Office Ltd will now consider further the proposal to assess its viability. In the meantime, to reduce disruption should a new locally funded service be established, Post Office Ltd has decided to delay the implementation of the closure of this branch by three months to 9th April 2008.
Post Office® Shawford branch
A relatively small amount of correspondence was received during the local public consultation period in relation to this branch.
A review has, nevertheless, been conducted and has confirmed, amongst other things, that customer levels at this branch are very low. Taking all relevant factors into consideration our final decision is to proceed with the closure of Post Office® Shawford branch.
Micheldever submitted for further review by Postwatch
Postwatch is working with Post Office Ltd and local communities throughout the programme to help secure the best possible outcome for customers.
Postwatch and Post Office Ltd have agreed a Memorandum of Understanding, which sets out in detail the role Postwatch will play in the Programme. Where Postwatch thinks Post Office Ltd’s proposals are unsatisfactory, it will work with local communities and Post Office Ltd to address these problems.
Where Postwatch can show, in respect of an individual branch, Post Office Ltd has not given due consideration to material evidence received during the public consultation in coming to its decision or where evidence emerges from the consultation that the proposal for that branch does not meet the Government’s policy requirements, there is an agreed review mechanism between Postwatch and Post Office Ltd. It is important to note that Postwatch does not have a power of veto on Post Office Ltd’s decisions.
We have made a decision in principle to proceed with the remaining eight Outreach proposals subject to final agreement with Postwatch. Post Office Ltd is now working on finalising the details of the specific solution that replaces each branch; this information will be published shortly.
- Post Office® East Meon branch, East Meon Stores, High Street, East Meon, Petersfield, GU32 1NW
- Post Office® East Tisted branch, Station Road, East Tisted, Alton, GU34 3QP
- Post Office® Froxfield branch, 13 Dellfield, Froxfield, Petersfield, GU32 1EH
- Post Office® Lockerley branch, Lockerley Green, Romsey, SO51 0JN
- Post Office® Micheldever branch, Church Street, Micheldever, Winchester, SO21 3DB
- Post Office® St Mary Bourne branch, Bourne Meadow, St Mary Bourne, Andover, SP11 6BE
- Post Office® West Tytherley branch, West Tytherley, Salisbury, SP5 1NF
- Post Office® West Meon branch, High Street, West Meon, Petersfield, GU32 1LJ