Hartlepool's main Post Office is moving to a new home
Hartlepool's Crown Post Office is to close and the service move into another location in the shopping centre by the end of the month.
Post Office bosses have taken the decision to close the town’s biggest branch in Middleton Grange Shopping Centre.
It will move into WH Smith where it will be run as a franchise.
A notice has been posted in the facility saying the new location will open from Thursday, March 30. The Post Office says the decision ensures its survival and the move into WH Smith means it will be open for longer.
The retailer has already taken on franchises for the Post Office in more than 100 branches around the country including in Middlesbrough.
A Post Office spokesman said: “There was a decision last month, following the public consultation, that we will be moving the branch into the WH Smith store at 186 Middleton Grange – it will be operated as a franchise.
“The decision has been taken to ensure that the branch is commercially sustainable into the future.
“The new branch will have its own designated area in the WH Smith store and we will ensure there is sufficient space for all our customers, including wheelchair users, to access the Post Office without hindrance.
“The design will incorporate low-level counters, PIN pads, hearing loops and customer seating. We already have more than 100 Post Office branches in WH Smith store and have worked with them for over ten years.
“The new branch will be open for longer – including Saturday afternoons and Sundays – and the same services will be available.
“We’re expecting to open the new branch on March 30.
“There will be no break in service as the current branch will operate as normal until this time.”
The Communication Workers Union (CWU) and Public Services Alliance opposed the move, believing it could significantly impact postal service in the area.
Campaigners from the organisations took part in an event to drum up support in Hartlepool town centre last month.
In January, the Post Office announced closures or franchises for 37 other flagship Crown branches up and down the country, on top of 62 revealed last year.
CWU Deputy General Secretary Postal, Terry Pullinger, said in January: “The arrogance of the Post Office and Government is stunning, the Post Office network has been reduced by more than 50% over the past 30 years and continues to be run down. Its IT platform is being held together with sticky tape and it continues to outsource and close its outlets, yet they dress it up as a success and honour its directors.”