Losing Neston Post Office Highlighted in the House of Commons
|Published: 9th July 2021 16:46|
With the central Post Office closed for the forseeable future, Justin Madders took the campaign a step forward by raising the issue at Business Questions.
Neston's more than 15,000 residents lost the town's post office, when it closed for the forseeable future on Monday 5 July 2021.
It was sad to see the doors close at 7 High Street, Neston, and Post Office Limited is yet to secure new franchisees.
Brian and Joanne Young, who have run both Neston and Little Neston Post Offices, announced some time ago that they are closing the Neston outlet from the start of July but are keeping the facility at Little Neston open.
So far, more than 800 signatures have been added to a petition launched by Ellesmere Port and Neston MP Justin Madders aimed at piling pressure on Richard Hall, external affairs manager at Post Office Limited, to keep the Neston facility going by finding new franchisees for the premises promptly.
In the House of Commons he told Jacob Rees-Mogg, Leader of the House: "Our high streets have been struggling for many years now and Covid has accelerated the challenges they face. There was another example of that last week when, sadly, Neston Post Office closed its doors for the last time.
"I understand there is interest from some potential new operators, but experience has shown us that it can take many, many months for those interests to come to fruition.
"For a town of Neston's size to have no post office for any period of time is simply unacceptable, so can we have a debate please on what we can do to have more statutory obligations on the Post Office to ensure that vital public services are not left from towns for any length of time?"
Mr Rees-Mogg replied: "The ability to go to the post office or to banks and other essential services is of course of great importance.
"The Post Office has to ensure that it provides as much service as possible within the budget that it has got."
Mr Madders is being joined in his campaign by Cheshire West and Chester Council leader Louise Gittins, who is the councillor for Little Neston, Neston borough councillor Keith Millar and Parkgate councillor Martin Barker. The politicians have written to Mr Hall calling for a meeting to discuss the closure as soon as possible.
Mr Madders said: "The current model the Post Office has is not working as more and more franchise holders are finding they cannot make ends meet and the last year has seen those pressures only increase.
"It's about time the Post Office realised that they are going to have to do an awful lot more to support local postmasters as it is simply a scandal that a town of Neston's size does not have a Post Office.
"I would urge everyone to respond to the consultation and sign our petition" which can be found at change.org here.
The petition launched at the end of June reads: "Sadly the current operators of Neston Post Office can no longer afford to keep it open and it will be closing in early July.
"It is a disgrace that a town of Neston's size will be without a Post Office so this petition call on the Post Office to put in sufficient support to enable it to remain open until new operators can be found."
The Neston branch has been operating on reduced hours since September 2020, opening on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
In a statement the Post Office has said: "Looking after a nationwide network of Post Office services, we have a responsibility to make sure every service makes the best possible use of resources, while ensuring that customers can still access our products and services.
"We will continue to work to find a solution that will provide a Post Office service to the Neston community."
A six-week consultation period has been launched, so residents can contribute feedback at the postofficeviews.co.uk portal.
In a message to customers Brian and Joanne Young have said: "Making this decision has not been easy but in doing so we can secure the future of Little Neston Post Office and the employment of all our outstanding team." All six employees will retain their jobs.
The facility at 1 Town Lane, Little Neston, will continue to be open from 9am to 5.30pm from Mondays to Fridays and from 9am to 1.30pm on Saturdays.
Residents who have signed the petition have made clear why they believe Neston Post Office should reopen. Comments include:
Sue Bioletti: "The PO is vital. The banks have closed, the PO has taken over this role. As we get older we cannot get around as much and our local community needs to support keeping this vital business open. We need it for so many reasons."
Neal Williams: "The old folks again would have to travel miles for their post office service. That's more strife for them now all the high street banks have closed in Neston."
Diane Millington: "We need a Post Office. It is too far for the elderly and those who do not drive to go to Little Neston."
Jonathan Rudd: "We need the Post Office in Neston for people who can't travel. It will be an absolute disgrace if it's allowed to close."
Shevaun Mendelsohn: "Neston is a very busy town and this post office is invaluable."
Mathew Gillson: "It's is the hub of the community."