Hartlepool people were today urged to get involved if planned changes to post office services in town are put out to public consultation.
The Hartlepool Mail told yesterday how the Crown Post Office in the Middleton Grange Shopping Centre was on a list of 42 UK sites being considered for franchise.
Hartlepool’s Crown post office provides an excellent service to residents and it is vital they maintain a presence in the town centreCoun Kevin Cranney, chair of Hartlepool Borough Council’s Regeneration Services Policy Committee
Post Office chiefs say six weeks of consultation would be held when firm plans had been developed.
The Post Office argues that moving crown offices –the larger branches usually on high streets – to other sites such as retail outlets, maintains and improves services.
Today, Coun Kevin Cranney, chairman of Hartlepool Borough Council’s Regeneration Services Policy Committee, said: “Hartlepool’s Crown Post Office provides an excellent service to residents and it is vital they maintain a presence in the town centre.
“It is our understanding that Post Office Ltd is in the process of developing detailed plans for the branch, which may involve franchising, before carrying out a public consultation.
“We will be in a position to comment further once firm proposals are revealed and we would encourage residents to take part in the consultation process.”
His comments come just hours after Hartlepool MP Iain Wright aired his fears on the proposals, over issues such as whether the Middleton Grange office could close altogether if there’s no outside interest in it; and that jobs could be lost in a town where unemployment is running way above the national average.
Mr Wright said the franchise plan was “fraught with risks. It could adversely affect staff and I think there will be job losse”.
A Post Office statement said: “We have been talking to our people at a number of locations, around 40, including Hartlepool, about the potential changes regarding their branch. When we have developed firm, detailed plans there will be a six -week public consultation.
“We are seeking a suitable potential retail partner because we believe that franchising, which has been used successfully in other areas, will secure services in the area for the future.”
Other Crown Post Offices being considered for franchise include Aberystwyth, Halifax, Penzance, Banbury, Harlow, and Bognor Regis.