If you feel strongly (or even mildly) about the proposed closure of the Belmont Post Office on Belmont Church Road/Campbell Parl Avenue, don’t forget that Monday 12 May is the last day to respond to the consultation to lodge your objections and ideas with the Northern Ireland team.
The National Consultation Team
Post Office Limited
FREEPOST CONSULTATION TEAM
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or webform or phone 08457 22 33 44
Belmont post office serves a considerable local community, is well used, and has friendly staff who have support from the local community. It forms part of the local community infrastructure, sited a few metres along the road from a eight-til-late corner shop, near the local bakery, and close to bus stops, several schools (nursery, primary and secondary) as well as a community centre (Belmont Tower).
The means by which this particular branch was selected for possible closure remains a mystery. It has a very similar level footfall to the nearest two branches – The Upper Newtownards Road post office (which is hidden inside a Spar shop on the forecourt of a busy BP petrol station) and the Strandtown branch. Difficult to understand why it was singled out for closure over the other nearby branches.
If the Belmont branch is indeed closed, many older people will be disadvantaged. Situated in-between the (roughly) parallel Upper Newtownards and Belmont Roads, thousands of residents can walk to the Belmont branch along the network of quiet streets without having to go out onto or cross over the main roads. This is also a great advantage for young families with small children in tow and in push-chairs. With a growing number of house renovations, apartment builds and squeezing another house into big gardens in the area, Belmont’s population catchment is growing.
The Strandtown branch is situated beside other shops and amenities: however the lack of level entry (it has a step up to the door) and the fact that there is no pillar box directly outside makes it more awkward for people on foot. The Upper Newtownards Road branch is in a filling station – not a safe environment for a parent on foot with one or more children.
The Strandtown branch also closes between 1pm-2pm which is highly inconvenient for any home workers in the area who want to nip out to the post office at lunchtime.
For those travelling my car, there is plenty of side-of-pavement parking at Belmont – something which the alternative Strandtown branch does not really have (despite what it says in the consultation literature). While Strandtown has parking bays nearby, these are very heavily contended and nearly always full, making it inconvenient for drivers to stop and nip into the post office. Parking up side streets – even just to leave people off – is a considerable disadvantage.
Bearing in mind the growing population, the superior access on foot and ease of parking, along with the similar levels of trade, perhaps the Post Office should be investing in the Belmont branch, strengthening the range of services that are supported (eg, adding passport checking) rather than removing this valuable resource from the local community.