Concern voiced over plans for ‘isolated’ new Midhurst Post Office

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Midhurst town councillors have voiced their concern over a proposal to move the town’s post office.

Plans have been unveiled to move the service to Midhurst Service Station in Bepton Road where officials say it will be open seven days a week and a total of 65 hours longer every week.

But town councillors said they could see no benefit to the town. They have expressed concerned that the new location would be further away from the town centre, less accessible and more isolated.

They are also worried that the site is potentially more hazardous for pedestrians with cars arriving at the garage in a shared and confined space.

At a meeting of the planning and infrastructure committee council chairman Mark Purves said: “Our preferred option is to leave the post office where it is. They say it would be open longer hours, but I don’t think there is necessarily a demand for these longer hours. I am concerned about the significant increase in cars and pedestrians in a very confined space.”

Judy Fowler added: “It tends to be older people using the post office and the new location would cause a problem with access. The present Tuck Shop site is much safer with a wide pavement outside.”

Committee chairman Gordon McAra said: “The petrol station is less easy to get to and more inconvenient for local residents. I think it should stay where it is.”

Their concerns come as thousands of post office workers take part in strike action today in a bid to secure the future of the Post Office network and secure their jobs and pensions.

Secretary of the Communication Workers Union Portsmouth branch Ruth Harris said the post office was part of Britain’s ‘proud heritage’.

“A combination of government funding cuts and a deluded self-congratulating Post Office board threaten this cherished national institution.”

She said this year alone the Post Office planned to axe up to 2,000 jobs while shutting down post offices and privatising others.

As well as the proposed Midhurst service move, post offices at Fittleworth, Nyewood and Bury have been closed and new mobile services are planned.

There is also uncertainty about the future of the Fernhurst Post office which could move to Dudman Ward electrical supplies shop and the long term future of post office services, currently housed in the village Cocking are also under threat.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) believed the Post Office had reached crisis point said branch secretary Ruth Harris.

“Management has displayed a complete lack of ambition and pursued a relentless ‘dash for cash’.

“It beggars belief that the government and Post Office management present the current situation as one of progress and success- taking a flagship operation into the corner of another company’s premises and replace loyal, highly skilled staff on decent terms and conditions with people on the minimum wage.”

She added: “The CWU is calling on the government to take responsibility for the industry it owns, call a halt to the latest programme of cuts and closures, and reach a new settlement that’s secures the future of the vital Post Office network.

“Industrial Action is always the last option, our members are striking to protect their jobs and pensions but also to defend local communities and secure the future of a national treasure.”

She urged supporters to sign the Peoples Post Petition at www.supportthepeoplespost.co.uk