Thursday, 24 June 2021

Post office to move across the road to Co-op

THE relocation of Watlington post office in High Street across the road to the Midcounties Co-operative store in Couching Street has been confirmed.

The Post Office announced the decision on Monday following a public consultation exercise. A date for the move has not been finalised.

It says the new offering will be a modern open-plan “local”style branch with significantly extended opening hours.

Post office services will be available from two open-plan tills at the shop counter from Monday to Sunday, 6am to 11pm. This is a total of 119 hours a week, 73 more than at present.

The Post Office said the earlier opening and later closing was designed to make it more convenient for customers to visit.

Clare Downs, head of post offices and services at Midcounties Co-operative, said: “As a community retailer based in the heart of Watlington, we are pleased that we will soon be welcoming members and customers to our new post office branch. Local residents and small business customers will be able to access a wide range of post office services during our extended opening hours.

“This will be a new-style local-plus branch with an enhanced range of products including manual banking, Transcash and Royal Mail and Parcelforce international services. Cheques will still be accepted as a method of payment.”

The move is part of a modernisation programme across the Post Office network.

Suzanne Richardson, regional network manager for the Post Office, said: “We are making it easier for customers to get their cash, send and collect their mail and do their banking because we know how important these services are to local residents. We are confident that this vibrant new-style post office at the heart of the local community will meet customer needs.”

During the consultation concerns were raised about possible congestion in the busy store, the internal layout and customer privacy.

A Post Office spokeswoman said: “Some customers were very supportive of the move, particularly welcoming the step-free access and automatic entrance doors, spacious premises and longer opening times at the new branch.

“It will be built to Post Office specification with sufficient room for customers to access the branch and to move around.

“The entrance area, shopping aisles and the queuing area will be kept free from obstructions and adequate room will be provided for customers in a wheelchair to be able to move around the store without difficulty.

“Staff are fully aware of the need to respect customer privacy and confidentiality. Customers will also be asked to stand back from the counter when awaiting service.”

The spokeswoman also dismissed concerns about parking, saying the Post Office was “satisfied” that the new branch would be accessible.

She said although there was no roadside parking immediately outside the shop, there was further along Couching Street and there was a large car park with disabled parking bays in Hill Road less than 100m away.

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