MP and traders fear second class service if post office closes

Chorley Post Office
Chorley Post Office

Proposals to close Chorley’s main post office have been described as “an absolute disgrace”.

Lindsay Hoyle, MP for Chorley, wants to meet with Post Office representatives about the plans to replace the branch with counters in the WHSmith shop on New Market Street.

He said: “It is an absolute disgrace. We have a crown post office that has served Chorley well for years. It’s well used, in a good spot, very accessible for people with disabilities, it has a ramp and provides lots of services.

“We don’t want it to move and we don’t want it to go to WHSmith. You can’t park outside there, it not great access-wise, they’ve shoved the crown post office right at the back.

“I think it’s a disgrace and Chorley deserves better.”

Malcolm Allen, chairman of Chorley Traders’ Alliance, is also concerned and described the plans as a “blow” to the town.

He said: “It’s going to be a bugbear. For the people that haven’t got a post office near their own home, that come into the town especially for the post office, it’s going to be a problem.

“Since it’s very busy on certain days in the post office, moving it into WHSmith means it’s going to have queues out of the doors unless they have staff to cope with it.”

He fears there could be problems due to the lack of parking spaces outside WHSmith, particularly for disabled people.

Malcolm said: “I think it’s an inconvenience, ie for disabled people that can park outside and go straight into the post office. They can’t do this in the precinct. If they are going to try to do that, it will lead to problems with people parking in the town.”

Plans to close the post office on Cleveland Street were revealed on Wednesday, when the Post Office launched a six-week consultation to gather people’s views.

Under the proposals, there would be four Post Office serving positions in WHSmith - three open-plan counters and one screened - plus two self-service kiosks.

The staff currently working on Cleveland Street will move to the new site and will still be employed by the Post Office.

It is proposed the move would happen in August. The Chorley branch is one of around 300 Crown Post Office branches directly run by the Post Office and forming part of the overall network of 11,500 branches around the country.

Roger Gale, general manager of the Post Office Crown Network, said: “We are committed to keeping our services on the high street which we know is hugely important to people. This proposal means we can continue to do that, into the future.

“Our customers will be offered the same range of services.

“Our collaboration with WHSmith helps secure the long-term viability of services for local customers.

“We are making sure we take the right course of action to sustain services for years to come. We must adapt to the changing needs of our customers, who want a convenient and flexible choice of when and how they do business with us – whether that is face to face, on the web or through new initiatives such as self-service kiosks.”

It is not the first post office in the borough to close its doors and be replaced with a counter elsewhere.

Earlier this year there was a consultation on plans to shut Bagganley Lane Post Office, on Eaves Lane, and instead offer services at the Spar shop across the road.

Whittle-le-Woods Post Office, on Shaw Brow, was replaced with a counter at Jubilee Service Station, on Preston Road, and Gregson Lane Post Office in Hoghton relocated to Clayfields Chemist, on Alder Drive.

Wheelton Post Office, on Blackburn Road, closed in 2014 after the retirement of the postmistress, who had been there for nearly 25 years.

But not all branches have shut their doors. Clayton Brook Post Office is currently closed for refurbishment and is due to reopen on Friday after undergoing refurbishment. As well as modernising the branch on Tunley Holme, the opening hours will be extended.

In 2014 Higher Adlington Post Office, Leyland Post Office and Abbey Village Post Office were all revamped.

The public consultation on the plans for Chorley Crown Post Office runs until June 15 and people can have their say on factors such as the location, the proposed premises, accessibility or community issues.

People can get involved by visiting postofficeviews.co.uk, emailing comments@postoffice.co.uk, calling 03457 22 33 44 or writing to FREEPOST Your Comments.