Resolution hope for post office

A Morpeth councillor is acting as an intermediary in an effort to resolve the issues at a post office in his ward.

The branch in the Stobhillgate Corner Shop was revamped last 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 postmaster) are regularly dealing with large queues and this means the separate newsagents till is often obstructed.

As a result, a petition was launched and it received strong support from Stobhill residents.

Other matters have been identified by both parties, including a telephone line issue, during discussions.

Over the last few months, Ian Lindley – who represents Morpeth Stobhill on Northumberland County Council – has been speaking with the Sandhars and regional officials at the Post Office to help them reach a way forward.

He said: “As well as the till issue, there are others that need to be resolved and I’m doing all I can to get things sorted out between the two parties.

“After speaking to Post Office officials, I’m happy that it is willing to come to a workable arrangement, so hopefully an agreement can be reached in the near future.

“What I’m looking for is something that everyone is happy with and will result in the people running the shop being able to give residents the best possible service.”

As well as longer queues, customers have raised concerns that the till layout changes have created a lack of space at the front of the shop and this has led to a loss of privacy when getting post office services.

Mr Sandhar has previously said that although the opening hours have been extended, the majority of residents are still coming in between nine and five and the back of the shop is still unused space, so the option of moving the post office till back to that area ‘remains on the table’.

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

“We would like to reassure customers that we take the provision of post office services at Stobhillgate very seriously and we continue to work with the postmistress and sub postmaster to ensure we give customers a positive experience in the modernised branch.”