A location for a Post Office branch in Westbury continues to be sought, but Post Office Ltd says that a smaller two-counter facility within a shop is now the best way forward.
In a letter to Westbury MP Andrew Murrison, Post Office Ltd say that there has been a lack of interest from businesses agreeing to manage a larger post office facility on their premises. As a result, they hope that a smaller Post Office Local branch will be more attractive to increase income of a town business.
Westbury’s main post office, housed within the Co-op store, was closed down on 3rd October last year. The store has now been demolished to make way for a Lidl store to be built later this year.
Since the branch was closed, many local people and businesses have complained about the length of time that Westbury has had no main Post Office branch. Dr Andrew Murrison MP, had written to Post Office Ltd asking for an update on the situation.
In reply, Stuart Taylor, Post Office external relations manager said, “Following feedback from previous interested parties, we have decided to remodel the Post Office opportunity in Westbury from a main style branch to a two-position local-style branch.
“It is felt that the larger space required in a retail shop of a mains-style branch has been a significant contributory factor as to why previous initial interest had not resulted in a formal application.”
Deputy Mayor of Westbury, cllr Ian Cunningham said, “The offer to remodel reflects the reality that not enough businesses with sufficient space have come forward. Obviously, at very busy times like Christmas, people will be very critical of “only two” counters rather than three, but the economic reality is that most people use post offices far less than they did.
“If the turnover of the three counters in Westbury had been very high, then we would already have a new post office. It is generally accepted that most post offices need to be co-located with another business to be viable – they make money but probably not enough to stand on their own two feet.
“Three counters is an issue for many smaller businesses as they either don’t have the room at all or do not feel able to give over that much trading space in a smaller premises. Clearly, two will also reduce staffing costs.
“If “two counter” encourages other businesses in Westbury to look at the additional income and shoppers that a post office will provide, then it’s a good thing in my view; better two than none.
“Although many people now have alternatives to post offices and could “manage” without one, it is often the most disadvantaged in our society that cannot access those alternatives; and even in this online age, many would still prefer to pop to the post office – which could only help our town centre.
“I hope that some of the businesses who were “thinking about it” will now move forward with applications.”
Explaining the change of direction by Post Office Ltd, Stuart Taylor said, “In the meantime, please accept my sincere apologies for the time it is taking to restore Post Office services to the community and for any inconvenience caused to local customers as a result of the temporary closure of the former post office. We remain committed to see services restored to Westbury as soon as possible.”
The opportunity to run the post office inside your business is currently advertised online at https://runapostoffice.co.uk/home/result/show/westbury-post-office-westbury-ba13-3xw where relevant application forms are accessible for interested parties.
What do you think?