The Post Office has moved to defend its plan to relocate services in Midhurst from The Tuck Shop in North Street to the Bepton Road Service Station
The proposal has come under fire from town councillors who say the new location would be less accessible for elderly people and more ‘isolated’.
Margaret Guest, chairman of Rother Valley Together which provides day care services for elderly and vulnerable people has also criticised the move saying disabled access and the safety aspect for disabled people with scooters and other mobility aids was a big concern.
But now Shermeen Islam, representing the Post Office programme correspondence team has responded to Mrs Guest.
She said: “Our plans for Midhurst Post Office form part of a major programme of modernisation taking place across the Post Office network, the largest in the history of Post Office Ltd and we believe that our proposals to relocate this branch will help to safeguard the future of a Post Office presence in your local area.”
She said the postmaster at The Tuck Shop had shown a preference to leave the network under the Network Transformation Programme and, “as such, we have been seeking new premises from which to continue providing a modern and professional service.”
Midhurst Service Station had applied to take over the service and had been successful in the initial stages of recruitment.
“Should a decision be made not to proceed with the proposal, we may consider other options at that time, and this would be subject to a further six-week local public consultation.”
Shermeen Islam added: “We know the Post Office plays an important part in the lives of customers, including our elderly and less able customers and we want to make our services are as accessible as possible.”
An assessment of accessibility at the Bepton Road premises would be carried out before a decision was made, she said.
Mrs Guest said: “I do not think they really appreciate the risk factors to pedestrian access and how totally inappropriate the garage is for a Post Office to have allowed the proposal to reach the consultation stage.”
Meanwhile Post Office chief executive Paula Vennells has been seeing for herself the new mobile service in action in rural areas. It will be parked at Fittleworth Village Hall on Mondays and Thursdays from 9am–11am and at Nyewood in the layby opposite the green on Habin Hill on Tuesdays from 12.30–1.30pm
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