Strong support for post office’s petition

From left, Mandy Hopkins, Coun Alison Byard, sub post master Jazzy Sandhar, Kayleigh Sisterson and Lisa Sisterson with the petition.
From left, Mandy Hopkins, Coun Alison Byard, sub post master Jazzy Sandhar, Kayleigh Sisterson and Lisa Sisterson with the petition.

Customers at a Morpeth post office have delivered a resounding message that they want layout changes to be reversed.

The branch in the Stobhillgate Corner Shop was revamped in the summer as part of the Post Office organisation’s nationwide programme.

But it has caused a problem as only one post office till is in place at the front of the shop, compared to two at the rear under the previous layout.

Postmistress Lucky Sandhar and her son Jazzy (sub post master) are regularly dealing with large queues and this means the separate newsagents till is often obstructed.

They have raised concerns to Post Office management and asked for the former layout to be re-instated, but this has been unsuccessful.

After discussing the issue with residents and community representatives, a petition was launched last week to support this call and about 200 people have signed it so far.

Mr Sandhar said: “When the changes were taking place, I thought they might work but I wasn’t completely sure. Unfortunately, they haven’t worked out and customers are not happy with the new layout.

“Now we only have one till, we often have queues going outside the door. The opening hours have been extended, but the vast majority of residents here are still coming to the shop between nine and five.

“The back of the shop is now unused space so we would be able to have the two post office tills in that area if we get Post Office approval.

“We made our case to management, but our words have fallen on deaf ears.

“We felt we had no choice but to proceed with a petition and we’re thrilled that so many people have already signed it.”

Coun Alison Byard, who represents the Stobhill ward on Morpeth Town Council, said that setting up a petition was initially suggested by a resident who regularly uses the shop.

“I don’t know what the rationale was for the new layout, but I don’t think it’s a good use of space,” she added.

“Some of those who have raised concerns with me said that as well as longer queues, the lack of space at the front has led to a loss of privacy when getting post office services.”

A Post Office spokeswoman said: “The new models of Post Office branches will help improve their profitability and also benefit customers through longer opening hours and modern retail environments.

“We are always willing to listen to suggestion from Postmasters, Postmistresses and customers alike regarding Post Office services in their area. For any changes to take place, we would review customer usage at the branch before any change was considered.”