WITNEY residents say the plans to move the town’s post office to the WH Smith shop in the Woolgate Centre would be a “disaster”.

They made their views plain at a public consultation held by Post Office managers in the town on Saturday.

The Post Office revealed earlier this month that it wants to move from its Market Square premises to WH Smith in March next year.

The company says it needs to close 70 directly-managed Crown branches across the country to end losses of £40m a year.

At the consultation meeting, held at the Blue Boar hotel, in Market Square, residents voiced concerns about the size of WH Smith, which they said was already crowded and not suitable to accommodate a postal counter as well.

Farm Mill Lane resident Rae Cather said: “WH Smith is claustrophobic and isn’t an inviting place to go for customers.

“There will be long queues, which will go outside the doors of the shop.”

Doris Watson, 86, of Langdale Gate, said: “WH Smith is already crowded. It’s hopeless already, but there will be mayhem with the post office in the shop as well.”

Schofield Avenue resident Pauline Ayris said the plan took no account of people with pushchairs, walking frames or wheelchairs.

Mrs Ayris, who uses a walking aid, said: “I can’t get into WH Smith, as the entrance is too narrow. And the same thing applies for those with a pushchair or wheelchair.

“What on earth made them think they should move?”

Tahir Akram. the owner of News Links in Corn Street, said: “It’s a disaster. The shop is too cramped, too small and inaccessible. Not everyone will be able to fit into the shop.”

But Post Office representative Laura Tarling was eager to ease residents’ fears and said there were many benefits to moving.

She said: “It will be open for nine extra hours per week and will also be open for four hours on a Sunday.

“The new store will be modern and include two screened and two open-plan serving positions, which will make it easier for customers to do business.”

When asked about the size of the store, she said: “I don’t feel the shop is too small.

“We will also improve accessibility, as an automatic door will be available.”

WH Smith has said it cannot comment until the six-week consultation period, which runs until Monday, November 25, is completed.

Comments, including the reference 006137, can be made online at postofficeviews.co.uk, by email to comments@postoffice.co.uk, by post addressed to Freepost, Your Comments, or by calling 08457 223344.