Post Office announce major changes at Lewes and Polegate branches

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The Post Office has confirmed it will close its Lewes Crown branch later this year following a lengthy consultation process.

Meanwhile Polegate Post Office, which is based in the town's Co-op supermarket, is set to be re-opened as a main style branch after undergoing a major refurbishment, according to Maria Caulfield MP.

The Lewes Crown Office is expected to close on October 19 before moving its services to WH Smith in Cliffe High Street, the comapny said today (Tuesday).

Roger Gale, general manager for the Post Office’s Crown branch network said that the change would help to ensure the branch remains commercially viable. He said: “Our customers’ needs continue to change and we are responding to that, taking the right action to sustain our services for years to come.

"WHSmith already operates around 100 Post Office branches throughout the UK and we have been successfully working with them for nearly ten years. They have a proven record of running Post Offices with consistently high levels of customer service.

“We are committed to remaining on high streets and at the heart of communities. We are making changes right across our network to enable us to do so.

“That means adapting to the needs of our customers, who want flexibility and choice about how and when they do business with us, whether that is face to face or on the web.”

Post Office Ltd say its final plans for Lewes Post Office were shaped by a six-week public consultation. They say customer access both into and within the WHSmith store will be held to a high standard, with aisles widened where needed to make sure there is sufficient space for wheelchair users. They also say the new layout will include low-level counters, PIN pads, hearing loops and customer seating.

But campaigners in Lewes have criticised the company's decision saying they didn't acknowledge a stong desire to keep the existing branch.

Post Office Ltd confirmed it received 200 individual representations from customers and local representatives during the consultation with a further 91 customers sending comment cards objecting to the proposal.

The company also revealed plans for a major refurbishment at its Polegate branch, which is currently a counter service in the town's Co-op supermarket.

Following the announcement, Lewes MP Maria Caulfield said: “Together with the mayor of Polegate Cllr David Watts,and Cllr Angela Snell I have held a number of meetings with representatives from the Post Office, to discuss the future of the Polegate Branch.”

“I am therefore delighted with this announcement which is great news for my constituents within the Polegate community, in which the Post Office has such an important role.”

“This programme of modernisation - which is underpinned by Government investment - and the Post Office’s move towards diversification will ensure its future for many years to come, and this can only be a positive step forward.”

The Polegate branch close between October 3 and October 28 while the refurbishment takes place. The supermarket will remain open throughout this time.

Mayor of Polegate David Watts said: "I am delighted to see that a refurbishment programme is about to start in the Polegate Post office and that an enhanced service of a main style branch is to be offered. This is good news for Polegate and its residents, many of whom rely on the Post Office Services locally."

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