Protecting Post Office services in Witney
At a meeting with Post Office senior representatives, West Oxfordshire District Council emphasised that postal services are an important and valued service for Witney and that they should be maintained in an accessible and central location for local residents and businesses.
West Oxfordshire District Council made their views known on Monday 4 March at a meeting they had requested with the Post Office to discuss their plans for the Witney branch.
Witney is one of 373 Crown Post Offices where the business is owned and directly managed by the Post Office. There are a total of about 11,500 branches nationwide most of which are operated under various franchise arrangements.
At the meeting Post Office representatives explained that the Crown Post Office network is currently losing about £40m a year. As part of a programme to break even, they have identified Witney as one of 70 Crown Post Offices with little potential to grow the business and so a franchise partner will be sought to provide the service.
Post Office representatives emphasised that this was not a closure proposal for Witney but that all current services would continue under any franchised arrangement.
Cllr Richard Langridge, Cabinet Member for Local Economy and Communities attended the meeting. He said, “Witney is a vibrant, bustling town centre and the main town centre Post Office provides vital services to residents and local businesses and is always busy and well-used. Losing any of these services would be damaging to our community and so we must seek to ensure that the present range of services continue to be available in Witney.
“A town centre location is a must as it needs to be accessible to everyone: local residents including the elderly and disabled, people from outlying villages that come into Witney by bus and the many retailers and businesses that trade in the town.
“We are concerned about the availability of a suitable alternative location in Witney should this prove necessary and so will continue to meet with the Post Office to represent the views of our residents and maintain an ongoing dialogue with them.”
The Post Office accepted the concerns raised by the District Council and confirmed there would be no loss of service in the event that the service was franchised. A central, accessible location would also be a key requirement of any new arrangement.
If no franchise partner is found through the process the Council was told that the Crown Post Office will remain.
Both parties agreed to hold further discussions as necessary over this period.
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