Dismay and outrage at Post Office closure plan
Cllr Barry Norton, Leader of West Oxfordshire District Council has expressed dismay and outrage at the Post Office's plan to close nine post offices in the district.
In the cases of almost half the closures – four out of nine – no alternative services are proposed which will not only hit communities extra hard but put more pressure on already overstretched post offices at other locations.
West Oxfordshire post offices earmarked for closure with no replacement service are at Combe, Wootton near Woodstock, Stanmore Crescent in Carterton and at West End, Witney.
The plan proposes alternative services to replace existing post offices at Chadlington, Enstone, Great Rollright, Great Tew and Tackley.
“We are extremely concerned at the closures announced by the Post Office which will not only affect the immediate communities but the surrounding areas too,” Cllr Norton said. “Our particular worry is where the closure will affect the viability of a village shop.”
“Rural communities as well as those in larger towns will be hard hit and we are especially unhappy where no alternative outreach services are proposed.”
“I am outraged by the proposed closure at Stanmore Crescent, Carterton which is relied on heavily by service families sending parcels to forces personnel in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. Closing this facility is no way to treat a large section of the community and will only add to the stress people there are already under with loved ones at great risk far from home. And long queues and delays at the Co-op, the town's only other post office, are bound to get longer.
“Closing the post office at West End, Witney, is a bad deal for people in the North end of the town. The main post office in the town centre is already overstretched and has little or no capacity for extra custom that closures elsewhere will create.
“At Wootton, I know the closure announcement was unexpected and has come as a shock to the community who are considering the next steps they can take about this. Similarly at Combe, the worry is that a village of this size will not retain its own post office.
Turning to the outlets in the District where alternative services are proposed, Cllr Norton said that the Council would be looking at the options very closely to see that community needs will be properly addressed.
“The post office closure at Chadlington is of very great concern to us as it could put the viability of the local shop into question. Our opinion is that the mobile outreach service proposed would not be good enough for a village of this size. The existing post office should remain open under exactly the same arrangements.
“I am seriously concerned by the situation at Enstone where the proposed outreach service needs to be comprehensive and sufficient for community needs and protect the future of the local shop.
“Similarly at Tackley where the post office earmarked for closure is in the only shop in the village, the mobile replacement service open just seven hours over three days will be a poor alternative. What is worse is that the community here have worked very hard to re-establish a retail outlet in the village and closing the post office section will be a hammer blow.
“I am greatly dismayed by the closure plan for Great Rollright where the post office is fairly well used and where shutting it will have a detrimental impact on the only retail outlet in the community.
“For the people of Great Tew, the very limited outreach service proposed just two hours a week will give them an extremely limited local option.”
Also commenting on the closure plan Cllr Jill Dunsmore, Cabinet Member for Communities said: “Together with Oxfordshire Rural Community Council, Postwatch and other Councils in Oxfordshire, we will be looking at all the issues raised by the closure plan and responding to the Post Office at the end of the six week consultation period.
“Whatever the final outcome of the consultation is I don't think that anyone doubts that post offices will close. So our priority must be to see how we can minimise the impact of this in the interests of residents throughout West Oxfordshire.”
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