Post Office will go ahead with changes to Porthleven Post Office despite public objections.

It is with regret I have to write this blog post about our Post Office in Porthleven. As you know, without prior knowledge, the powers-that-be at the Post Office decided to change our Post Office in Porthleven.

The simple fact is the Post Office has not consulted with the public over the changes. It has done a communication. This basically means they sent a few letters and put posters up in the affected shop. However from this, over 70 residents and businesses wrote to the Post Office expressing concern about the changes.

Did the Post Office listen and at least put on hold the final decision until a proper consultation could take place? In simple words, no they did not. The Post Office is carrying on with its original plan with a few small tweaks.

It should not be a surprise, as the Post Office sent new opening time leaflets to the Post Office in Porthleven before the final decision was made. The Post Office has apologised for this ‘error’. However, it shows no matter what the public, or the operators of Porthleven Post Office have said, the Post Office had no intention of changing its mind.

I remained concerned that the changes will not be positive for Porthleven. More importantly, the changes are not good for the operators of the Post Office, Paul and Sharon. The impact of losing the sub-postmaster pay is a blow to Paul and Sharon. When the Post Office head of External Relations visited Porthleven, he said the changes would result in an uplift of 6% in trade.

I really cannot see how this would happen, but more importantly, this 6% does not offset the loss of the sub-postmaster’s pay. I also asked for proof of this magical figure of 6%. As yet, this has not been forthcoming. A small consultation to Paul and Sharon is the Post Office will pay a year’s sub-postermaster’s salary as part of the transition.

For many the Post Office in Porthleven is treated as a bank in Porthleven. These changes will impact on how businesses do their banking in Porthleven. The new Local Plus operation prohibits paying in more than £1000 in cash without a fortress facility. Many businesses in Porthleven pay more than this and therefore, these changes could potentially impact on businesses.

When I challenged this the response I received by letter is that: ‘(the) Postmaster will speak to business banking customers about any alternatives available for larger deposits’. I am not sure what this actually means. Is the alternative meaning bank elsewhere?

Many objections talked about additional queuing and the level of security. The Post Office responded by saying the new counter will have a separate till for the Post Office functions. However, this really does not solve the issue, more so if you must have two staff on at the same time, but without the income to fund this. Nothing about the security concerns.

I would like to thank all those who took the time to respond to the ‘communication’.

The Porthleven Post Office is set to close on the 10th March and reopen on the 14th March. Paul and Sharon need our support, and therefore, please where possible support them in this difficult time.

Proposed changes to Porthleven Post Office is not a consultation, but a communication

Following on from my previous blog about the changes to the Porthleven Post Office, I have a further update after further correspondence with officials at the Post Office.

The good news is the Head of External Relations at the Post Office will travel to Cornwall to meet me. I welcome this as this gives me the chance to put my and the communities views across.

However, my request for the consultation period to be extended has as yet – still lobbying for it – not been accepted. The reasoning behind why the Post office is unwilling to extend the period is because the Post Office say they have had limited correspondence in objection to the changes. I have said you will need to re-check as I can assure you in the last few days there has been many such correspondence.

Porthleven's Post Office

Porthleven’s Post Office

My worry is the Post Office is not receiving the volume we need to stop these changes. Therefore can we re-double our efforts in contacting the Post Office lodging our objections? I would ask if you do email, can you copy me into the email (awallis@cornwall.gov.uk) so I can count and if needs be, audit the emails to make sure they have been received by the Post Office.

Furthermore, if you do not have access to email, please write a letter. You don’t have to post it as you can leave it at the Post Office here in Porthleven, the Town Council office, or post it through my letter box and I will make sure the powers-to-be at the Post Office receive it.

I have been contacted by businesses in Porthleven who use the Post Office for banking facilities. Those who have contact me are concerned about the security when banking cash without the dedicated Post Office booth. Not only for themselves, but for the staff who will have to handle the cash at a single counter.

There is also the concern about privacy when using the facilities. People have told me they would feel uncomfortable using a single counter when discussing personal business.

Residents have raised concerns about the so-called consultation – or should I say lack of it. You might like to hear the definition of consultation the Post Office is undertaking in these changes. As when I challenged the length and actual information given to residents in this consultation, I was informed that this was not a consultation, but a communication about the changes.

Amazingly, the Post Office only has to do a consultation if it moves or closes a facility. If it is only makes changes to the facility, they only have to do a communication! Hence why I and the town council only got a letter. I checked the Post Office’s code of practice and they can. I was almost lost for words this is allowed to happen.

The real danger is we as a community do not have long to act. Therefore, please email or write a letter giving your views. If there is more than one adult person in your household, then all write/email. Business who use the Post Office must write too. As if we do not, it might be too late.

The email details are: comments@postoffice.co.uk

Our Post Office needs your support Porthleven. Please help.

 

Porthleven Post Office set to change without thought to the community

Recently, I received a letter from the Post Office explaining the ‘exciting’ changes to Porthleven Post Office. On first glance it looked like good news, but having been involved before when there was a threat to Porthleven Office several years ago, these letters tend to skirt over some (or rather a lot) of the detail.

Talking to the sub-postmaster, it was soon apparent the letter I received missed out quite a bits of information. The first is the salary the Postmaster receives to run the Post Office is set to stop. The current dedicated counter – which also offers security – will be removed. This will be replaced by a single use counter for the whole of the shop. Furthermore, the cost of this change is to be met by the owners of the shop, Paul and Sharon, apart from a grant of up to £1,400.

Porthleven's Post Office

Porthleven’s Post Office

The loss of the salary is a huge blow to Paul and Sharon, as this pays the staff that operate the Post Office. For a small business like theirs, it will be very difficult to keep the current staff levels, operate the Post Office and other parts of the shop. The business will have to make this loss of a salary up from the general running costs of the store. Losing circa £14k is not a small amount to absorb.

Speaking to Paul and Sharon it is clear they are gutted with the changes. They have worked hard to run this successful shop, and have built up a loyal customer base. It is also clear that the shop has to accept the changes, or the alternative will be to lose the Post Office facility.

I have written to the Post Office objecting most strongly to the changes. I asked for a meeting to see if we could find a way forward. Yet, the reply I received on Monday from the Head of External Relations at the Post Office was basically re-enforcing the original letter. However, my offer to meet and discuss a way forward has been accepted. I am in the process of setting up that meeting.

I have further requested that no changes are made to the provision in Porthleven until there has been a meeting, and more importantly, there is a proper consultation period. As the current ‘consultation’ is not good enough to hear the views of Porthleven’s residents.

Officially, there is a consultation period till the 2nd February, and the letter said no changes will be made till that has finished. Yet, the Post Office officials have been in the shop to ‘measure up’ the changes. It is clear to me, that the Post Office are railroading these changes without one thought to the community. This is an outrageous slap in the face to the residents of Porthleven.

Porthleven Town Council has also met to discuss this issue, from that meeting they will be writing to the Post Office to ask for a meeting. I have also contacted the local MP asking for support.

My fear is with the changes and the loss of the salary to help run the Post Office will put a huge pressure on the other parts of the shop. Resulting in the Post Office not being a viable option. If no other premises in Porthleven wished to take on the Post Office facility, we in Porthleven could be in grave danger of losing our Post Office forever. I am not saying this would definitely happen, but it is a concern.

There is a petition in the Post Office, but that is only one way to object. I am urging readers of this blog to help me in objecting to the changes.

One way to do this is to get everyone to write an email asking for a period of grace before any changes are implemented for the Post Office to hold a proper period of consultation to hear the views of residents. From those views, to work with the Post Office and the sub-postmaster to find a way forward.

The email details are: comments@postoffice.co.uk

Please take five-minutes and send an email. If you do not, it might be too late.

The Original letter from the PO:

Postoffice1

Postoffice2