Concerns raised over Norwich Castle Mall Post Office move to WHSmith
- Credit: Archant © 2009
Customers of the Castle Mall Post Office have been making their concerns heard at a forum hosted in Norwich this afternoon to gather feedback over plans to move the branch.
A consultation has been running since April after the Post Office announced they intend to franchise the branch to the WHSmith's store on St Stephens Street this summer instead of Castle Mall.
Users have expressed concerns over access and the impact the move could have on the shopping mall. 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it,' said 68-year-old Bill Monaghan, of King Street. 'I think they are putting an awful lot of eggs in one basket, and they do not know how WHSmith will do. 'The other point is it could be quite awkward getting around WHSmith. If one person is standing in an aisle, you have to go all the way around, and if there are pushchairs and wheelchairs things become very cramped.
'They have said they will monitor the situation, but my worry is that the queues will build at busy times.'
Jane Backhouse, 65, of Westlegate Tower, also said congestion in WHSmith as a concern.
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'Castle Mall is struggling anyway, and I think if the Post Office goes that will make things worse,' she said. 'They say this is not a foregone conclusion, but it has happened before in other locations. They say all the jobs will be transferred, but one can't help thinking it will be a smaller site. 'It may not be their job to prop up the Castle Mall, but by moving they are propping up WHSmith. I just wonder if we will lose some other businesses as a result.'
Laura Tarling, public affairs manager for the Post Office said the move had been proposed to keep the branch viable in the future, and stressed all feedback will be taken on board.
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'The responses so far have been fairly mixed, with some positive feedback but also some concerns,' she said. 'Some of the concerns are around the site of the Post Office, which has been in the shopping centre for quite a number of years, so that is a change for many people. 'When we plan a Post Office within a store we make sure we do have queuing space that meets aisle widths in terms of legislation, and we abide by the law. 'This is just a proposal at this point, so we are looking for feedback to help shape our plans.
'Castle Mall Post Office is a branch that Post Office Ltd owns, and it one of our 'crowns'. We have about 300 of those that have historically been loss-making, and we are now at a point where we break even so we need to make more changes to make sure we do not rely on the tax-payer subsidy. We looked at each branch to see what we can do to make it more sustainable, and highlighted 39 branches in January to franchise with a retail partner.'
Last month, Castle Mall boss Amanda Phillips said she hoped the public would back the branch to help ensure it remains in the shopping centre.
She added: 'This isn't my decision but I would hope they [the Post Office] would see the benefits of a secure, dry and safe environment as well as a newly refurbished unit.'
The consultation runs until June 1, with the proposed move in August. To comment, email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit postofficeviews.co.uk, or write to FREEPOST Your Comments