Thursday, 19 October 2017

Post office is ‘inadequate’

THE revamped post office in Sonning Common is not providing adequate services, claims a parish councillor.

THE revamped post office in Sonning Common is not providing adequate services, claims a parish councillor.

The facility inside the One Stop shop in Wood Lane has been refurbished and now has an open-plan layout.

The move was part of a national modernisation programme and is supposed to enable customers to use more post office services at the retail counter.

Councillor Carole Lewis said she had been unable to pay a cheque into her savings account and was told by staff to go to the post office in Emmer Green instead. Speaking at a parish council meeting this week, she said: “I feel that our local post office is very important, especially for those people who are less able to get to Emmer Green, for example, so I think we should make sure it is fit for purpose for our residents to use.

“I fear that if it does not provide the services we are used to, people will go elsewhere. It’s not just the fact that cheques cannot be accepted, it seems to me that by reducing the number of counters from three to one, there are going to be long queues.”

Councillor Gail Noble said she had witnessed staff carry her money from a safe across the shop floor. She said: “It’s such a risk for those employees and everyone else.”

Councillor Leigh Rawlins said he was worried the business would fail if the services were not used.

He said: “I have a horrible fear where it gets to the stage where we have to either use it or drop it. It would be a disaster if they drop the business.” Council chairman Douglas Kedge suggested inviting the manager of the One Stop shop to the annual parish meeting in April.

A Post Office spokeswoman said: “In new-style ‘local’ branches like Sonning Common customers will not be able to pay for products and services using personal cheques. Our research has suggested that there is little demand for paying by cheque and retailers do not accept cheques as a method of payment over their retail counter, where the local post office is integrated.

“There is a number of other ways to pay for products and services in branch but if a customer’s only option is to pay by cheque, then these will continue to be accepted across our main and traditional branch network.”

Meanwhile, the council has praised volunteers who gritted pavements in the village this winter.

Parish councillor Dirk Jones led a team that went out five times to make sure footpaths were cleared of ice following snowfall and parish clerk Philip Collings made sure the salt bins were restocked. Councillor Kedge said the teams of residents, which were usually made up of six to eight people, had made a “marvellous” effort.

“A good team turned out every time and it’s a sign of a community working together and doing a really good job,” he said. “Our pavements were really clear. A year ago we had 20 people falling over in the village but this year there have been none as far as I’m aware.”

lWhat do you think? Write to: Letters, Henley Standard, Caxton House, 1 Station Road, Henley RG9 1AD or email letters@henleystandard.co.uk

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