Town’s Post Office under threat

    Plans to transfer counter services to WH Smiths will help cut costs says PO

    Tom Tugendhat MP with Mrs Lewis who signed the petition
    Tom Tugendhat MP with Mrs Lewis who signed the petition
    Tom Tugendhat MP with Mrs Lewis who signed the petition

    A CAMPAIGN to save the Crown Post Office has been launched by Tom Tugendhat MP who describes the outlet as ‘one of the crucial pieces of infrastructure’ in Tonbridge.

    Proposals to move the service from its premises at 5 Angel Walk to inside the WH Smith store at 35-37 High Street were first revealed last month as part of the Post Office’s ‘ongoing modernisation of the network’.

    The Tonbridge & Malling MP said: “I am deeply disappointed that the Post Office is considering this. Tonbridge is a town on the up, and has a vibrant feel to it. It deserves its Post Office and any decision to close it would not benefit residents, particularly in the south of the town.”

    Once operations move in March 2017, the service will have four staffed counters as well as three self-service kiosks within the stationary and book store.

    But despite assurances from the Post Office that the ‘same wide range of products and services would still be available’, Cllr David Cure, who represents Judd Ward, expressed concerns over the logistics of the new premises.

    He said: “The new store needs to have plenty of scope for seating for when the queues get long. The current Post Office is quite bulky so they will need to fit a lot of equipment in the new one. Also if the queue in Smiths is extended that will impede the rest of the shop, it could get quite cramped.”

    A Post Office spokesperson said: “Cohabiting with another retailer brings obvious benefits, both via cost savings and also in the products and services offered by WH Smith, which brings new customer footfall to our business.

    “The Crown part of our network has historically been loss making, with losses four years ago of £46m. We have made progress over the last few years in addressing this situation.”

    But Mr Tugendhat has hit back, arguing: “I have been in correspondence with them about the matter and have not received any assurances that the service would improve for customers should a standalone Post Office close.”

    He has since launched a petition on his website, as part of the Post Office’s public consultation on their move, which ends on November 16. ‘Hundreds of residents’ have already signed.