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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 04/03/2008
Annexe 1 to Appendix F - Briefing Note - Post Office Closures: Consultation




Briefing Note

Post Office Closures: Consultation

Waverley Borough Council hosted a well-attended meeting on Friday 8th February to discuss the Post Offices Closures consultation. Representatives from Waverley Borough Council and the Post Office were present along with one of our MPs, Jeremy Hunt.

Within the Waverley area, two post offices are proposed for closure:

Station Hill, Farnham
Tilford

The Post Office have advised that there are a number of key factors that they take into account, in equal measure, before proposing individual offices for closure. These are:
number of customers using the Post Office facilities
proximity of other Post Offices (within the national criteria)
geography and demography of the area (roads, hills etc)
size of other post offices (and capacity to take the transferred customers)
financial savings to Post Office Ltd

These are the areas to focus on in any representation around these areas in any response to the consultation. The Post Office would like to hear of anything that they appear not to have taken into account and whether there are other local issues they were not aware of such as infrastructure changes etc. The Post Office confirmed that they have a legal obligation to read and respond to every piece of consultation material. If there are things that have not been taken into account previously they could be things that will lead to the post Office changing its decision. This has happened in other areas of the country as a result of consultation

Waverley, as a borough, is considered within a larger “Area Plan” covering Surrey, Berkshire and West Sussex and the post office is charged nationally with closing 2,500 post offices with a similar number of closures in each Area Plan.

Waverley Borough Council will be responding to the consultation and a report will be considered by the Executive at its March meeting. The Portfolio Holder’s aim is to provide arguments that will avoid the closures of the two post offices named within Waverley.

The public consultation event at the Farnham Maltings highlighted a number of issues which could be reinforced to the Post Office Ltd.

Station Hill, Farnham
an awareness of the recent closures that have happened on the south side of Farnham. Within the last five years post offices closures have included Firgrove, Burnt Hill and Boundstone. In addition Heath End and Folly Hill are currently closed.


the number of sheltered housing units, care homes, hospices in the vicinity who cannot easily access the alternative offices (White Bines, Shepherds Court, Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice). The elderly population in the wards served by this post office is significantly higher than the elderly population of Waverley as a whole (which is itself higher than the county and regional averages)
parking at the alternatives (Lower Bourne, town centre) is difficult
Public transport is poor in the area and alternatives are not accessible other than by car to residents currently using Station Hill – the area is hilly
Town centre post office currently has long queues (not ideal for older or more vulnerable people).
Insufficient account has been taken of the nature of pedestrian access as this entails crossing the A31 at the Hickleys Corner junction and is on the other side of the A31 trunk road

Tilford
planning permission has recently been given by the Council to extend the village shop. The post office is within the village shop and its closure could affect the viability of the shop
village shop is community owned and run
suggested alternatives are not viable on foot – unlit, unpaved roads
there is no bus service to the suggested alternatives
Tilford is a thriving village with a community – one of the few to have all available services within walking distance (2 schools, local institute, garage, shop)
the post office services the Islamabad community
reduces the ability of villagers to live their lives locally
awareness of the history of the post office and the link to Churt – the Tilford post office has reduced hours partly as a result of the attack on the sub post master whilst trying to ensure a neighbouring village retained its post office service
according to the 2007 Index of Multiple Deprivation the area (Lower Layer Super Output Area) in which Tilford Post Office is situated is the eighth most disadvantaged area in Waverley in terms of “geographical barriers” and within the most disadvantaged 20% nationally in relation to “barriers to housing and services” more generally. Access to Post Office facilities is one of the constituents of this measure and the proposed closure would clearly contribute to an increase in the level of rural disadvantage in this already isolated area.


Other Post Offices closures raised at the Maltings Consultation event
It should also be noted that a third post office bordering the borough is on the closure list – Boxalls Lane, Aldershot. This serves residents in North Farnham.

The Council is urging individuals to write to support their local post office. Whilst petitions will be accepted (paper, not electronic), the post office has confirmed that individually penned letters will carry more weight. The emphasis needs to be on argued points as to why the Post Office proposal is incorrectly proposed not just a ‘save our post office because we like it’ type of argument.

The consultation paper for the closures has been produced by the Post Office. A link to the “Area Access Reports has been placed on the Waverley Borough Council website. It should be noted that the statistics quoted are based on the postal wards and do not cover adjacent wards that may not have their own post office.

Finally it should be remembered that this is a consultation and the community’s representations could save the Station Lane and or Tilford Post offices. However, it should be noted that the retention of one or other post office could move the spotlight to another post office in the area which could be subject to a further consultation period if another closure were considered necessary.

Post Watch is watching over the process to ensure that there is fair play and that the consultation process is not a pointless charade. In other areas the post office’s proposals have been changed as a result of local representation. A representative of Postwatch attended the Farnham consultation meeting and confirmed that the process in this area was being carried out correctly.

The consultation period ends on March 10th and comments on the closure proposals can be sent to

Gary Herbert,
Network Development Manager,
Post Office Ltd,
FREEPOST CONSULTATION TEAM.

or by email to consultation@postoffice.co.uk


comms/exec/2007-08/266