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Post Office reveals plan to move services in Witney to WH Smith
CAMPAIGNERS against the closure of Witney’s post office say they are sceptical about plans to move it to the town's WH Smith branch.
The Post Office has said it is considering relocating from its Market Square premises to the shop in the Woolgate Centre next March.
In February the company announced it was one of 70 Crown branches across the country facing closure – a move intended to cut losses of £40m a year.
District councillor Duncan Enright, who led a campaign against the closure, said he was worried about the suitability of WH Smith.
He said: “What we were most concerned about was the loss of services and the move does seem to mean these would not be lost.
“But as most people who have been to WH Smith in the town will know it is very cramped and there are already long queues.
“I am sceptical about the move and I can’t see how it could possibly work in Witney.”
The Post Office said there would be no compulsory redundancies and the new location would have four serving positions – there are eight staff at the moment.
Lyn Jones, of Burwell Drive, Witney, signed the petition against any closure of the post office.
She said: “I don’t think they should be moving it from where it is.
“Sticking it in the back of a shop is not going to help. When people come to the town and they want stamps or postcards they will never find it. The shop aisles are narrow as it is.”
In June Prime Minister and Witney MP David Cameron joined Labour councillor Mr Enright to hand over a 2,000-strong petition.
Mr Cameron said: “I am pleased to hear that the proposed partner for Witney Crown Post Office is the centrally-located WH Smith store.
“WH Smith has considerable experience in running post office services and the Witney store has good access from nearby car parks and bus stops.
“I shall follow the consultation closely to ensure that there is no reduction in the level of service provided to businesses and residents.”
West Oxfordshire District Council's cabinet member for local economy and communities, Richard Langridge, said the council was pleased with the proposals, but said it would “wait to see the full details of how this move will work in practice”.
Crown network general manager Roger Gale said: “We are committed to keeping a post office branch in Witney and to maintaining the same levels of service for our customers.
“We believe the best way for us to do this is to change the way we operate the branch, so if the move goes ahead it will be run by WH Smith High Street Ltd rather than by us directly.”
The post office would open between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Saturday, and 10am to 2pm on Sundays.
WHSmith said it was unable to comment on the proposed move until the consultation ended.
The six-week public consultation began on Monday and finishes on November 25.
The Post Office plans to run a customer forum on the move and said the details would be finalised soon.
Comments can be made at postofficeviews.co.uk, by FREEPOST Your Comments to Post Office Ltd, via email to email@example.com, the customer helpline on 0845 7 22 33 44 or textphone 08457 22 33 55. Customers are asked to quote branch code 006137 in all communications.
February 8: Post Office announces potential cut of Witney service
April: Post Office formally invites shops to provide space for service
June 21: Petition against closure handed to the Post Office
October 14: Consultation about new location at WH Smith opens
November 25: Consultation closes
March 2014: Planned opening of new post office in WH Smith
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