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Prime Minister pledges to defend postal services in Witney
DAVID Cameron has warned the Post Office it can’t cut services in Witney but has stopped short of demanding its town centre branch is saved.
The Post Office announced on Friday it was looking to close the Market Square branch and open a franchise in another shop.
The Prime Minister and Witney MP said there should be no loss of services but did not say the branch should remain open.
Mr Cameron said: “Witney’s main Post Office is a vital, convenient and much cherished public service for local people in an expanding town.
“There must be no reduction whatsoever in the level of service provided to residents and businesses and as the Member of Parliament for Witney I will seek to ensure that this happens.”
When pressed if the Prime Minister wanted the current Post Office saved, a spokesman said he would “prefer” the service to remain in its current building.
Witney residents and business leaders said losing the branch could have a disastrous impact on the disabled, pensioners and firms.
Witney’s other post pffice in Burwell Drive does not offer services such as passport checking and driver and vehicle licensing.
Witney Town Council member Brenda Churchill, who is disabled, said: “If it closes it will have a terrible impact. I use it all the time to pay my rent. Disabled people are going to be reliant on other people travelling to the Post Office for them, which is yet another freedom gone.
“It is your independence slowly being chipped away.”
She also questioned whether there were any shops in Witney that would be big enough to hold a Post Office.
Chamber of commerce chairman Lesley Semaine said: “It could be dire for businesses that rely on the Post Office every day.
“And if pensioners and the elderly cannot get on a bus from their home to the post office, as they do currently, it will be a nightmare.
“So many people rely on it.”
She added: “I am amazed it could close because it is rare you go in there and there is not a queue to the door. It is just so busy.”
The Post Office, which is losing £40m each year, said 70 directly-managed offices would need to close across the country.
It said it was starting discussions with Witney retailers, but all current services would be retained.
A spokesman said: “The 70 branches that have the potential to be partnered with a retailer will be subject to a six-week public consultation to gather the views of the local community.
“We are committed to having a branch in the area.
“If no retail partner is found we are still committed to having a Post Office within the area.
“This is not a closure programme and there are no compulsory redundancies planned as part of this strategy.”