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.

 

The Death of Another Post Office

I think every village and town in Cornwall who has a Post Office is, or has been worried about the future of this facility and service. Porthleven went through the same anguish a few years ago when the former postmaster decided to call it a day and leave. Luckily the shop and Post Office found new owners who, I have to say, have worked very hard to achieve a success. They even managed to secure a fee-free cashpoint to use out of Post Office hours.

Sadly, not all Post Offices have followed with the same success. News came to me tonight via e-mail that the Post Office in the Helford will not continue due to the new owners not wishing to continue running a Post Office counter. I have been informed that this Post Office will close around the 14th March 2011. This will be a massive blow to that area, as a Post Office is an important part of the fabric of local life, especially if it is one of the few shops in that area.

Past Governments have not helped the viability of running a Post Office by removing elements that were mainstays of this service. The way we now complete financial functions and the huge changes to how Pensions are collected have also hastened the death of the much loved Post Office.

For small communities like Helford losing something as important as a Post Office, pub or small shop has an even greater impact on day to day life. It weakens other (if any left) facilities, this in turn can change a small settlements very existence and pushes people more and more into the arms of the supermarkets.

We can all do our little bit to save the small shop by using them. If everyone spent a few pounds each week in them, then we just might save a few more before they become nothing more than memories.

It is a very sad day for the Helford, but I feel many other Post Offices will meet the same fate unless we do something about it, and start to use them again.