Chorley to get pop-up post office this week - and a Wyre village gets its service back after 11 years
Post Office services will roll back into Chorley town centre later this week, when a counter on casters is installed in an empty retail unit.
The pop-up facility will open in a former hairdressers in the Market Walk shopping centre on Friday (5th March).
It will deliver a stop-gap solution until a permanent base can be found for the town’s main branch, which closed almost two months ago when the WH Smith store on Market Street - where it was based - shut its doors.
It had been intended for the post office to move into the former Greenwoods outlet on Chapel Street, but that unit remains unrenovated and with a ‘To Let’ sign above it.
As the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) revealed last month, Chorley Council and the town’s MP, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, have been pushing for a temporary alternative until the situation is resolved.
The Market Walk facility will be operated by Craig Greenhalgh, postmaster of the branch in Burscough Bridge. He is also due to open four community-based, part-time “outreach” services in parts of Lancashire that have long since lost their post office - including Catterall, which last had a permanent branch over a decade ago.
Craig says he is expecting to be kept busy in Chorley, where the service will be provided on weekdays between 10am and 4pm.
“I drew some attention just by putting posters in the window of the shop - I could hear people talking about it outside.
“Effectively, it’s a post office on wheels, with everything built into the counter - we wheel it in and then are ready to go. It works off mobile data and means we can offer the vast majority of services, like banking and paying in - even next-day postal delivery.
“The only things we won’t be able to do in Chorley are vehicle tax and foreign currency - but then that’s not exactly in demand at the moment,” he laughed.
The LDRS understands that the temporary branch will be in place in unit 13 of the shopping centre for at least eight weeks and will continue to operate until a permanent one is established, so that there is no further break in service for the borough. It has been set-up with social distancing in mind, although the shop is big enough for several customers to enter at a time.
Some other post office staples, like stationary and greetings cards, will also be available, along with one that Craig says has proved particularly popular in some of his other outlets during lockdown - wool.
“I was approached by a rep asking if I’d consider stocking it, so I thought I’d give it a go - and it flies out.”
Cllr Peter Wilson, deputy leader of Chorley Council, said: "We have been assisting Post Office with setting up a temporary service to bridge the gap while they work on finding a more permanent solution.
"We are pleased to say that a temporary service should be operational from a unit in Market Walk at the end of this week.
"This is really good news for residents as we know how important it is to have access to this town centre service.”
Meanwhile, the new outreach services will see a post office return to Catterall, Hoddlesden, Salesbury and Trawden - at least for a few hours a week. They will offer the full complement of services - including vehicle tax and foreign currency.
Craig already operates more than a dozen other similar outlets across the county from existing community facilities.
He says it is important for those who might not be able to travel far from home to have a post office “on their doorstep”.
The Post Office says it will be continuing to look for “permanent solutions” in Catterall, Trawden and Hoddlesden, which lost their post offices in 2010, 2016 and 2018 respectively.
In Salesbury, where services disappeared in 2013, the outreach facility will itself become the long-term solution.
The Post Office is also seeking views from locals on the locations and days of operation for the new services, which begin from 22nd March at:
Catterall - Catterall Village Hall, Garstang Road, Preston, PR3 1XN - Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9.30am – 12.30pm.
Hoddlesden - Hoddlesden Village Store, 20-22 Queens Square, Darwen, BB3 3NQ - Wednesdays, 1.30pm – 4.30pm.
Salesbury - Salesbury Memorial Hall, 73 Ribchester Road, Clayton Le Dale, Blackburn, BB1 9HT - Mondays, 2.15 - 4.15pm.
Trawden - Trawden Forest Community Library, Church Street, Colne, BB8 8RU - Mondays, 9.30am – 1.30pm.
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