A senior Post Office manager has reiterated the organisation’s stance that opening a branch at the Willow Brook Centre would affect the viability of other post offices in the area.
The news was revealed at last week’s meeting of the Town Council’s Planning Committee, where the content of a letter from Tony Jones, Post Office Regional Network Manager (Wales & the West), was discussed.
Mr Jones was responding to Cllr Ben Walker, who had written to the Post Office in January following its “disappointing” initial response to the results of a public consultation held by the Town Council from August to October 2011.
More than 90% of people responding to the consultation called for a larger post office in Bradley Stoke, with three-quarters expressing a preference for a post office to be provided at the Willow Brook Centre.
Currently, the town’s only post office is located in north Bradley Stoke, within the Tesco Express store at Bradley Pavilions, Pear Tree Road. Users of that facility have complained about its non-central location, insufficient range of services, long queuing times and poor car parking.
In the latest letter, the Post Office says it has looked in detail at the service provided at the Pear Tree Road post office and concluded that:
“whilst it is a busy and vibrant branch, the current number of counter positions is sufficient to meet their customer footfall.”
With regard to the suggestion from the Town Council to consider locating a post office at the Willow Brook Centre, the Post Office accepts that this would “have the potential to be a popular location” but adds:
“due to its close proximity to three other Post Office branches, a post office at the Willow Brook Centre would seriously affect the ongoing viability of the three other post offices.”
Following discussion, Councillors on the Planning Committee agreed that the Town Clerk should write back to the Post Office asking it to review its decision in light of the following facts:
“the population of the town; the geographical area; the fact that they acknowledge that a new post office at the Willow Brook Centre would be popular; and the major residential building that will be taking place in surrounding area in the next few years.”
The latter point refers to South Gloucestershire Council’s plans to permit the building of around 12,000 new homes in the North Fringe of Bristol over the next 15 years, with around 8,000 in the Cribbs Causeway/Patchway area and around 4,000 in Stoke Gifford.
The three branches that the Post Office has specifically named as being at risk of having their viability affected by the creation of a larger branch in Bradley Stoke are those at Kingsway (Little Stoke), Simmonds View (Stoke Gifford) and Ratcliffe Drive (Stoke Gifford).
In an interesting development, the Post Office has recently been actively promoting its branch in Rodway Road (Patchway), specifically encouraging people from Bradley Stoke to make use of its wider range of services and easier car parking.
In related news, the Government recently announced that the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency’s (DVLA’s) office in Stoke Gifford, used by some as an alternative to post office branches for car tax renewals, is to close at the end of 2013.
Related link: Post Office Branch Finder
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