Post Office Ltd has confirmed it will to close its Lewes Crown Post Office branch by the end of the year.
The company says it will close the current premises, which have been a Post Office for more than 100 years, by November 2016 and plans to move its counter services into the WHSmith in Cliffe High Street.
Post Office Ltd says has ruled out retaining the current premises but a six-week consultation will begin tomorrow (Wednesday, June 22) to consider proposed premises, accessibility or community issues surrounding the move.
Roger Gale general manager of the post office Crown network said: “We are committed to keeping our services on the high street which we know is hugely important to people. This proposal means we can continue to do that, into the future.
“Our customers will be offered the same range of services, with more convenient and longer opening hours, including Sundays.
“WHSmith already operates around 100 Post Office branches from their stores in the UK and we’ve 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 making sure we take the right action to sustain services for years to come. We must adapt to the changing needs of our customers, who want a convenient and flexible choice of when and how they do business with us – whether that is face to face or on the web.
“We have to adapt so that we can maintain our presence on high streets and in the heart of communities, which we are determined to do,”
Save Lewes Crown Post Office, a campaign group which opposes moving the Post Office from its current premises on Cliffe High Street, have criticised the consultation process saying it is ignoring resident’s wider concerns.
The group says moving the post office from its current location will damage businesses and the local economy.
Campaigners are expected to deliver a petition calling on Post Office Ltd to stop the franchising of the Lewes branch to the business secretary Sajid Javid in Westminster on Wednesday. The petition has been signed by 4,331 people.
Speaking earlier this year campaign organiser Philippa Thompson criticised the consultation process.
She said: “The public consultation will be short and sharp and it will look only at how and when the decision to close the Crown Post Office will be implemented, not the decision itself.
“These proposals mean the downgrading of public services in Lewes to the detriment of the local economy, the loss of local jobs and an essential community asset in our town.
“But let’s be clear about this. Moving the Post Office from its High Street location will impact badly on shops and local businesses in the area, making it a ghost area just like Western Road has become since it lost its Post Office.
“A Post Office is part of the beating heart of a community and moving or losing ours would be a disaster for Lewes.
“I’d like to see town, district and county councillors working together to come up with viable plans to improve access to the current location. The addition of disabled parking spaces outside would help enormously”.
A post office spokesman said: “Public consultation is very important because it can help shape our plans. Although we have done thorough work on the proposal we want to hear from the local community what their views are.
“The principle of franchising is a business decision and a proven way of ensuring post office branches stay on high streets.
“We cannot stay as we are and we are very clear about that.
“The property is increasingly unaffordable, the way people use Post Offices is changing and taxpayers cannot be expected to foot the bill for us to stand still with rising costs.”
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