Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Belmont Post Office proposed for closure

Belmont Post Office - proposed for closure

It wasn’t a great surprise, but it was still disappointing to see that our local Post Office is on the Northern Ireland list to be closed down.

Straddling Belmont Church Road and Campbell Park Avenue, the Belmont Post Office has a great situation. Update - and as John Self points out in a comment below, handy to the Day to Day Mace and the Golden Crumb bakery. If it does close, we'll really miss it.

Sheila McCann from the Post Office explained on Good Morning Ulster that some of the branches slated for closure had less than twenty customers a day, even a week in some cases. Certainly not the case for the Belmont branch.

For the car-bound, it’s easy enough to abandon your car park nearby and nip in. And it’s easy to walk to from the myriad of streets sandwiched in-between the Upper Newtownards Road and Belmont Road without having to cross a busy road.

Quick (corrected) map of East Belfast post offices between Upper Newtownards Road and Belmont Road

The nearest alternatives are way down the Upper Newtownards Road inside the Spar shop at the BP Petrol Station near Jellybean, M&S and Kwit Fit (the Ballyhackamore branch) or else down on the Belmont Road in the Strandtown branch. Both of these are on busy roads, with very limited heavily contended parking outside Strandtown, and are a lot more exposed if you have to walk to them in the winter weather. The branch on the Upper Newtownards Road at the Knock crossroads seems to have already closed. (Map now corrected.)

There’s now a six week consultation ... with details of how you can voice your opinion posted in the affected Post Offices. Pity they haven’t yet put the information up onto the Post Office website :(

Consultation open today ... but no details yet on the Post Office website

You can see the full list of NI branches proposed for closure, which includes details of the rural branches to be replaced with an outreach (mobile) service.

Update - the Post Office website has now been updated with the NI Branch access reports describing the branches being closed and comparing them with the two nearest alternatives. Belmont is one of eleven branches which currently have 750+ customer sessions a week that are being closed down with business merging into similar sized (or larger) post offices within a mile or so.

Looks like by virtue of sitting in the middle of a triangle of Strandtown, Ballyhackamore and Cherryvalley (Kings Square) branches, Belmont is being targetted to close and help achieve the Post Office's required efficiency savings.

If the Belmont closure goes ahead, note that the Strandtown branch has a step up to the door, is closed over lunch between 1pm and 2pm, and has no pillar box for posting outside! Like Belmont, the Ballyhackamore branch has level access, opens identical hours (Mon-Fri 9am-5.30pm, Sat 9am-12.30pm), has a pillar box outside ... and also enjoys designated parking spaces on the petrol station forecourt.


Timothy Belmont said...

It's very disappointing indeed. It's an essential service to the local community. It's an unpopular policy and decision.


Timothy Belmont said...

Forgot to mention: I wonder about its history, when it opened etc. It's been there since I was born.

The Strandtown office hasn't been at its present location for very long: it used to be across the road, near the Eda Inn (which I have fond memories of!).


John Self said...

From your map (by the way I think you have Ballyhackamore PO on the wrong side of the Upp N'ards Road, and a little too far west), I reckon we are almost exactly equidistant from Strandtown and Belmont POs. I prefer Belmont though because the walk there, countrywards on the Belmont Road, is much nicer than heading into the cramped busyness of the main shopping area where Strandtown PO is. Also good to call into the Mace for the papers and the Golden Crumb for some cinnamon and raisin loaf while you're there!

It beats me why they have to reduce the number of Post Office branches anyway. The Post Office is a public service, not a profit-making business. Or did someone privatise it while I wasn't looking?

Miffy said...

It's sad they are closing - although I disagree with you re. the Ballyhackamore branch being in a location with limited parking. It's now located within the garage - next to Tesco which has a lot of parking space, and just up from Marks which again has lots of parking.

Convenor said...

Could you give a bit of publicity to two new blogs, please:


Thanks! Slán!

Alan in Belfast said...

convenor - I guess you've just done that yourself, though a little off topic!

john self, miffy - thanks. I've now corrected the map. Had forgotten that the BP garage has a Spar, a Subway *and* a Post Office. Wonder if it stretches to a working car wash? Few garages ever do.

Derek Lowry said...

I attended Belmont Elementary School 1950?-5 and used to buy sweeties at Hughes? Newsagents, located at where the Belmont P.O. is. Somehow back then, the owners were able to sell chocolates etc to us children without we having to give them, along with our pennies, the rationing imposed post war coupons.
Derek Lowry.

Anonymous said...

I am saddened and shocked to hear of the proposed closure of Belmont Post Office. Surely this must be one of the busiest!? It makes you wonder what is happening to the sense community we have left...

Anonymous said...

all these comments should be forwarded to postwatch and your local MLA AND MAYBE PREVENT THE CLOSURE of BELMONT POST OFFICE.