London Road Post Office due to close

Photo:London Road Post Office

London Road Post Office

Photo by Henry Bruce

Deadline for protests - 16 February 2011

By Peter Crowhurst, North Laine resident

The London Road Post Office is due to close and the Post Office intends to relocate it to No 14 Preston Road. If you are concerned about this you might want to write to the Post Office at:

Post Office Limited, c/o National Consultation Team, PO Box 2060, Watford, WD18 8ZW

or email consultation@postoffice.co.uk 

There is also a petition that you can sign by following this link: http://www.gopetition.com/petition/41913.html

Below are some things you might want to include in your submission. The consultation period closes on 16 February 2011.

Better access in London Road

The London Road Post Office is a well used and important service to the residents of  central Brighton. It is easily accessible, lying beside a lot of major bus routes that travel to many parts of the city. It is also within a short distance of London Road car park.  The accessibly of this location is especially important for people with mobility problems and the elderly who rely heavily on post office services and will be disproportionately affected by the proposed relocation.

Located within the heart of the busy London Road shopping area and close to many businesses and places of work, this post office is convenient to use in conjunction with other services and its presence is an important element in the economic viability of the area.

Preston Road is even further away

By comparison No 14 Preston Road is some distance away from the main thoroughfare, isolated by the major road intersection at Preston Circus.  The location is not well served for parking - parking is inadequate and difficult on this two lane fast run one-way road. 

The Post Office says that the new location is approximately 300 yards from the current service. In 2007, in response to  protests and concerns about closure of the Trafalgar Street sub-post office, which served North Laine, the Post Office offered the rationale that customers in North Laine could instead use the easily accessible London Road Post Office, half a mile away, as an alternative. To now move that service 300 yards further away makes a mockery of that argument and is a betrayal of the promise and commitment to local residents and businesses using this public service. What criteria does the Post Office now apply to determine an acceptable distance to the service within a heavily built up area? 

Will the new site be as easy to use?

No 14 Preston Road is a vacant former grocer, ZamZam.  There is a stationery and confectionery store opposite at No 13 Preston Road, a former sub-post office, one of the six judged unviable and closed by Post Office Ltd in 2008.

The busy London Road Post Office benefits from a large open area to accommodate extensive counters and a queuing area.  What comparative floor area, specifically for post office services and customers will 14 Preston Road be able to offer? Will the number of counters remain the same?  Will there be the same space for queuing or less? Will Post Office customers have to queue around the retailer's sales displays, causing inconvenience for them and the retailer's customers? Looking at 14 Preston Road it is hard to see that it will be adequate to provide anything other than a diminished service experience to customers.

Long term viability

During the 2007 consultation on closures we warned that the future of the Co-op was uncertain. It is two years since the Co-op ceased trading at their department store. Why is the Post Office only now considering relocation?  

Given its poor location and likely compromise of the service the new branch will be able to offer, I have considerable concerns about its long-term viability.  It is not that many years ago that the Post Office moved into the Co-op from its large purpose built office in Oxford Street. This current proposed move very much seems like the end of the line for any post office service at all in this part of the city.  

A site on London Road would be better

There are a number of vacant premises currently on London Road which could be considered. The business model of renting space within other business premises has not proved a long-term success in London Road. I note the pride with which the Post Office regards its long history of public service - long may that continue.  Would it not make a better long-term secure prospect to buy or long-lease suitably large premises on London Road, or adjacent side streets, and then perhaps let surplus space to others, therefore maintaining control whilst increasing footfall?

Anger and dismay

The previous recent closures of sub-post office services in the area was met with great concern and anger from residents and businesses. I fully expect that this latest proposal will be greeted with equal dismay and derision. The city centre needs adequate, appropriate and accessible public services including those that only the Post Office offers. I cannot therefore express more strongly our concern and lack of comprehension of how the Preston Road proposal is anything other than a totally retrograde step.

This page was added on 13/01/2011.
Comments/reviews:

It is also worth remembering that the Post Office recognises each petition as ONLY ONE RESPONSE, regardless of how many people have signed it. So it is definitely worth writing a letter as well. Also, local ward councillor Pete West has organised a photo opportunity and petition-signing event with The Argus for next Tuesday (18th January 2011) at 1.30pm outside London Road Post Office, so please try and come to add strength to numbers - and tell all your friends!

By Lizzie Deane
On 14/01/2011

This is really depressing news. Over and above the things Peter has identified, post offices used to be the place where people bumped into their neighbours and friends. It was one of the institutions which made a neighbourhood feel like a community. Perhaps what the Post Office should do now is reopen the old sub post offices in Trafalgar Street and Preston Road and give local people back the facilities they used to have and value. Wouldn't that be a great gesture!

By Anne Fletcher
On 17/01/2011

If this really is a consultation process and the decision has not already been made, the Post Office should consider the distances involved. The choice will be Preston Road or the dreaded W H Smith's queue. (They closed our Trafalgar Street sub post office.) Many P.O. customers in London Road have small children and buggies or are elderly. Preston Road is too far away.

By Maureen Brand
On 17/01/2011

Another thought occurs: is it possible for Post Office Counters to negotiate with Post Office Sorting and Deliveries for the resited post office to be within a part of the North Road sorting office - a large building which looks underused? Too sensible an idea?

By Maureen Brand
On 27/01/2011

Latest information (April 2011) is that the Post Office has decided not to move to 14 Preston Road after all. They are now looking to move to 82 London Road and will shortly start a new period of consultation about this new location. The new proposed building is on the stretch between Blockbuster and what was previously called the Hare & Hounds, now The Hydrant. At least this is the North Laine side of Preston Circus, but still further away for NL residents and traders.

Our local councillors are particularly concerned that there will be a reduction from 6 to only 2 or 3 counters and the effect this will have on queuing, especially since there's always a very long queue at the Co-op Post Office. They also doubt whether there'll be much room for queuing with the retail side of the premises as well.

Apparently the business model used by the Post Office is that the ‘agent’ rents the property and gets payment for each PO transaction. If, as with this agent, they just plan to sell sweets and stationery, they aren't in a position to pay a high rent on well located premises. Our local councillorr Pete West thinks the Post Office should combine its services with the Council and other public services or alternatively it should buy premises and rent out the excess space to a retailer, which would be a different kind of business model. Worth thinking about?

By Jackie Fuller
On 26/04/2011

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