Alarm bells ring over Post Office branch changes

CHANGES are afoot for a well-used community post office.

The Post Office has confirmed that it is planning a number of changes at the Stobhillgate branch, located within a shop, in line with a national programme.

The initiative would see Post Office services offered from the shop counter, instead of a separate booth.

Opening hours would be extended from the current 9am to 5.30pm weekday opening and 9am to 12.30pm on Saturdays, to run from 6.45am to 7.30pm Monday to Wednesday, 6.45am to 8pm Thursday to Saturday, and from 7am to noon on Sunday.

If the plan goes ahead the branch may have to close for three days next month for refurbishment.

A Post Office spokeswoman said: “We’re investing in our branches to make them more modern and convenient for customers and our sub-postmasters who run them. As part of the programme of investment, we are talking to the sub-postmanster at Stobhillgate about changing the branch to one of our new local branches.

“This would mean the wide range of Post Office services would be offered from a till on the retail counter and the branch would be open for much longer.”

Morpeth Town Council’s Planning and Transport Committee is concerned about the changes.

Coun Stuart Lishman pointed out that travel insurance and premium bonds would no longer be available from the branch and people would have to go online to obtain them, while Coun Nic Best was anxious about a loss of privacy and security for customers.

Coun Dave Pope said: “This is just another step on the slow and steady erosion of Post Office services.”