Monday, 12 August 2013

Response to Post Office Consultation regarding the re-location of Gwersyllt Post Office.

This is a response to a Post Office consultation to re-locate Gwersyllt Post Office from its current location at Hope Street, Gwersyllt, to a Spar Shop and Garage on the A541 Mold Road. 

Please feel free to use this response as the basis to letters that others may wish to send in opposition to this proposal. The Consultation closes on the 11th September 2013, and responses should be sent to:
consultation@postoffice.co.uk or FREEPOST PO Consultation.

I am the Wrexham CBC County Councillor for Gwersyllt West ward which adjoins the ward where the current Post Office is located and the ward where you propose to re-locate the Post Office. The vast majority of the residents of my ward use this Post Office due to its proximity and location. 
The community of Gwersyllt has a population of about 10,000 residing in the villages of Gwersyllt, Summerhill, Pandy, Bradley, Rhosrobin and Sydallt. Up to about 3 or 4 years ago these communities were served by FOUR Post Offices but those at Bradley, Rhosrobin and Summerhill were closed. 
Your attempts to consult with the public on this re-location is in fact a ‘sham’ and an insult to people’s intelligence. It is clear from the letter and information sheet that this is a ‘done deal’ and you are carrying out this sham consultation to satisfy the requirements of Consumer Futures and the Post Office’s conscience. 
The reality of the situation is that you wish to continue apace with your profitable business partnership with A F Blakemore’s who operate the Spar shops; in fact you already have 57 if not more franchises operating within Spar shops and as such no other local businesses were offered to run the Post Office service even though the proprietor of Derek’s Convenience Store on Wheatsheaf Lane, Gwersyllt, was interested and has an empty shop next door to her current store which she owns. This begs the question why no tendering exercises were undertaken as both Lidl and Tesco are also within a ‘stone’s throw’ of Hope Street and would have been interested. Can you provide evidence that you have carried out an ‘expression of interest’ exercise?
My second objection concerns necessity; is it necessary to move the Post Office from Hope Street? The previous postmaster owns the Hope Street building which he put up for sale some 4 years ago but little interest was received and he retired 2 years ago but still retained the newsagents business. Since then the Post Office has been run by the existing staff but managed by Potent Solutions in Bolton. I have seen no evidence that Potent Solutions wish to surrender management of the Post Office or that the existing staff have been offered the opportunity to run the Post Office themselves. In fact the future for the existing staff is unknown, will they be subject to Transfer of Undertakings Regulations (TUPE) or will they be made redundant? I have also spoken to the previous postmaster who confirms that he as the owner of the Post Office and has not put the Post Office under any pressure to re-locate.

It seems that the main reason why the Post Office cannot find staff to run Post Offices is the massive reduction in payments i.e. from £60,000pa to £40,000pa to postmasters as well as a reduction in transaction fees. This is clear evidence of re-location for cost cutting reasons rather than efficiency and improved service reasons.

My third objection to this re-location is accessibility. The new proposed location is not easily accessible for the infirm and elderly. The new location is 0.55 miles west of the present location. The new location is well away from the retail centre of the community and is away from the centres of population; whilst the existing location is directly across the road from a railway station as well as having easy access to a number of bus services and not just the two that serve the new location. The Spar is also located on a busy dual carriageway controlled by a complex junction system which is unsuitable for pedestrian use.
 
In conclusion I believe that your decision to move the Post Office is a flawed business decision based on a belief that it will reduce costs and increase profitability when in fact the accessibility problems will reduce your profitability as people will seek services in more accessible locations. I am also concerned that as a business who has a ‘social responsibility’ you have failed to carry out an impact assessment on the ‘local benefit or disbenefit’ effect of your decision.

You may also be aware that at the last count some 1400+ Gwersyllt Post Office customers have signed a petition opposing your decision to re-locate.
 
I would ask that you reconsider your decision and continue to provide the service from Hope Street or alternatively carry out a tendering exercise so that other businesses in Gwersyllt have a level playing field to compete.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Seems that Ian Lucas has used your response as the basis to his letter.