The results are in and despite letters, emails and a public meeting (with 200 residents and customers attending), the Post Office have not been swayed and are going ahead with their plan to close Belmont Post Office on the corner of Campbell Park Avenue and Belmont Church Road next month.
As well as not being swayed to keep it open, the process has not provoked the Post Office Consultation Team into explaining in more detail why Belmont had been targeted, or the criteria that had been applied to single it out.
The public did get make their voice heard ...
“During the six-week public consultation, Post Office Limited received approximately 4,500 responses and attended 97 meetings with customers and their representatives to understand customers’ concerns and to ensure that all the information provided by customers formed part of the final decision regarding each affected branch.”
In total, 42 Post Office branches were earmarked for closure and 54 were deemed suitable for conversion into an outreach service at the start of the consultation. The decision was only overturned for four (mostly urban?) branches:
- Attical (Kilkeel)
- Parkhall (Antrim)
- Strathroy (Omagh)
- Throne (Whitewell Road, Newtownabbey).
In addition, Meanwhile, the closure of Groomsport Post Office will go ahead, but a replacement outreach service will now be considered.
The opening hours of seven proposed outreach services have also been extended.
The Post Office press release attempts to offer comfort, explaining that over
“94.1% of the population in Northern Ireland will see no change.”
So what made them change their mind?
“Post Office Limited was informed of significant evidence of local regeneration with regard to both Parkhall and Strathroy Post Office branches and taking this, and all other factors into consideration, Post Office Limited has decided to retain both branches in its network.
The proposal to close The Throne Post Office was dependent on the reopening of a branch at the Abbey Centre. Post Office Limited has been unable to confirm this reopening and, taking this and all other factors into consideration, has decided not to proceed with the closure of The Throne branch.
With regard to the Attical branch, Post Office Limited recognises the need to retain access to Post Office services in this area and, taking all relevant factors into consideration, has decided that a mobile outreach service was not a feasible option. Post Office Limited will therefore not be proceeding with the proposed outreach service and Attical Post Office will remain in the network.”
The Post Office did show some humanity, with “the decision on whether to proceed with the closure of Finnis Post Office branch in Dromore ... postponed due to a bereavement.”
Maybe the Post Office will soon get around to updating their website with the local NI decision - seems a shame to make information available, but not keep it up to date.