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Post Office Closures in Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire

PUBLISHED: 09:59 05 January 2011 | UPDATED: 15:03 20 February 2013

save the post office

save the post office

The six-week consultation period on proposed post office closures may seem a bit of a sham, but it's still worth fighting on as long as you're armed with the facts, say our experts.

VILLAGES and suburbs in Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire now know which of their post office branches are threatened with closure. The Post Office has identified 26 branches it proposes to close in Gloucestershire and four in West Oxfordshire.


A further 18 may be replaced with a restricted service, which could include a travelling post office in a van or a post office for a few hours a week in a shop or community centre.


The post office has said that more than 99.3 percent of the area's population will either see no change to their nearest branch, or will remain within one mile by road of an alternative branch.


But it's not necessarily the last post for any of them. A six-week consultation period, ending on Monday, March 17, is now taking place, during which groups and individuals have the opportunity to say why their branch should be saved. The advice being given to communities is that they should dig out hard facts to bolster their case.


Christopher Cowcher , from Gloucestershire Rural Community Council, is working to support local communities whose post offices are under threat


Post Office Ltd has used a set of criteria to determine which branches might close. Now is the time for parish councils and other local groups to get together to check that the information used by Post Office Ltd to make this decision was accurate. Communities need to view Post Office Ltd's Branch Access Report (available through the GRCC (www.grcc.org.uk) and Post Office (www.postoffice.co.uk) websites ). One of the factors used to determine possible closure is distances and frequency of public transport to alternative post offices. Is this information correct? And is the public transport sensible? There might be a bus that runs to the next nearest post office; but if a pensioner wants to buy a couple of stamps and then has to wait two hours for a bus home, that's not much good to them. Perhaps someone has an elderly relative with mobility problems who simply can't use public transport at all. These are some of the points that need to be identified and highlighted during the consultation period, both by individuals and by community groups.


There will be strong feelings because a valued community amenity and people's livelihoods are under threat, but it is vital to remember that any response has to be backed up with hard facts. There is a Post Office Network Change public consultation advice sheet produced by GRCC in partnership with the Rural Services Support Group (summarised on this page and published in full on the GRCC website) that will help people put their case forward. They can also email me on christopherc@grcc.org.uk or ring 01452 528491 for further advice.



Henry Elwes, Lord Lieutenant of Gloucestershire and owner of the village of Colesbourne, where Post Office Ltd has proposed reducing services to five hours a week


These proposals are pretty devastating for rural communities, and demonstrate a lack of understanding by our metropolitan rulers. I think it's tragic. With a rural post office, the whole is so much greater than the sum of its parts: it's a centre of communication in the village; it helps support the wider business community; it can provide essential part-time jobs. There's a whole knock-on effect when a post office goes.


It's no good simply signing a petition. People must now write letters explaining how the loss of a post office would affect them personally.



Chris Jury is chairman of Blockley Cooperative Association, with more than 350 members, formed to establish the village's new community shop, caf and post office which will open in April


Following the announcement of the proposed closure of the present post office, Blockley Cooperative Association has been offered a 14-hour hosted outreach service to be housed in its new community shop. We started negotiating with the post office before Christmas, when they originally offered us substantially less in terms of hours and services. But to be fair to them, when we explained that wasn't going to work for us, they were prepared to listen.


I think there's no doubt that many village shops are no longer viable as profit-making businesses, partly because of property values, and partly because of competition from stores such as Tesco. However, there is a future for them as break-even community organisations.


There has always been community spirit here - Blockley is a very active village with 20-30 societies - but this issue of the shop and post office has brought us even closer together. I'd advise any other communities in a similar situation not to take no for an answer, but to get together and see what they can achieve.



If your community is faced with a closure, what can you do?



Consult the Branch Access Report produced by Post Office Limited (available through www.grcc.org.uk) to check that the factual information is accurate.


Pay particular attention to the sections covering transport to alternative branches. You may want to consider and make points about:


1. The timing of any return bus journey


2. What time of day the local bus service operates


3. Parking amenities to meet the practical needs of different users


4. Walking routes: Is there a safe footpath? Would this accommodate pushchairs and wheelchairs?


5. Is single car ownership a factor in your area? (If a household has one car it may be used by the main income earner during Post Office opening hours).


6. Is the nearest alternative branch capable of serving the anticipated influx of new customers in addition to its existing customers?


7. Are there other services near to or on the same premises as the closing branch? If so, are these services available near to the alternative branch suggested? (eg ATM, general stores, butcher, bakery, dry cleaners, parish council office)




Even if you do not find any errors in the Branch Access Report, you may still wish to write a response to oppose any closure



Send your letter by March 17 to: Freepost Consultation Team or email consultation@postoffice.co.uk


It is also recommended that you copy in Postwatch, the independent consumer watchdog for postal services in the United Kingdom: Freepost Postwatch or email info@postwatch.co.uk



For more advice, including what to do if your community has been identified to receive outreach services, visit the post office section of the GRCC website at www.grcc.org.uk


If your community is faced with a closure, what can you do?



Consult the Branch Access Report produced by Post Office Limited (available through www.grcc.org.uk) to check that the factual information is accurate.


Pay particular attention to the sections covering transport to alternative branches. You may want to consider and make points about:


1. The timing of any return bus journey


2. What time of day the local bus service operates


3. Parking amenities to meet the practical needs of different users


4. Walking routes: Is there a safe footpath? Would this accommodate pushchairs and wheelchairs?


5. Is single car ownership a factor in your area? (If a household has one car it may be used by the main income earner during Post Office opening hours).


6. Is the nearest alternative branch capable of serving the anticipated influx of new customers in addition to its existing customers?


7. Are there other services near to or on the same premises as the closing branch? If so, are these services available near to the alternative branch suggested? (eg ATM, general stores, butcher, bakery, dry cleaners, parish council office)




Even if you do not find any errors in the Branch Access Report, you may still wish to write a response to oppose any closure



Send your letter by March 17 to: Freepost Consultation Team or email consultation@postoffice.co.uk


It is also recommended that you copy in Postwatch, the independent consumer watchdog for postal services in the United Kingdom: Freepost Postwatch or email info@postwatch.co.uk



For more advice, including what to do if your community has been identified to receive outreach services, visit the post office section of the GRCC website at www.grcc.org.uk



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