Shock over loss of post office in community

Brought to you by the Morpeth Herald.
Brought to you by the Morpeth Herald.

Moves are under way to help residents with mobility issues in an area of Morpeth which suddenly lost its post office services.

The county councillor for Stobhill, Ian Lindley, has said that efforts to find an alternative location are progressing well, but it will take about four months for it to be up and running.

Support is being offered for those who will find it difficult to travel to the town centre for such services, including council tax payments and collecting pensions.

They were provided at Stobhillgate Corner Shop for many years, but the owners said it had to part company with Post Office Ltd earlier this month as they said it was actively looking to move elsewhere and they had a financial dispute with the organisation.

Coun Lindley said: “There has been understandable serious concern about the sudden loss of post office services in Stobhill.

“I want residents to know that I have been working with Post Office Ltd management. We have a shared determination to ensure a new location is agreed in order to securely provide services.

“Unfortunately, there will be some delay – estimated at around four months – due to legal and technical issues. For example, setting up a secure line installation.

“I’m very optimistic that a new location will be found soon and Post Office Ltd has assured me that it will announce the details as soon as they are confirmed.”

“Post offices provide a number of very important services for local people.

“They are particularly important to groups such as the elderly, a number of whom often can’t travel into town or to other services to access them.

“I am sure that neighbours and friends are helping these people in the interim and I would ask people to get in touch with me, call 07833 293718, if they need any particular help until a new location is confirmed.”

The relationship between the corner shop and Post Office Ltd turned frosty when a revamp took place in summer 2014 as part of the organisation’s nationwide programme.

It caused a problem for Lucky Sandhar and her son Jazz as only one post office till was in place at the front, compared to two at the rear under the previous layout.

Customers raised concerns that the till layout changes created a lack of space at the front of the shop and this led to a loss of privacy when getting post office services.

A petition received strong support, but the changed layout remained in place.

Mr Sandhar said: “We heard the Post Office was already looking at a different location and we were owed money which they wouldn’t pay up, so we felt we had to let them go from the shop.

“Residents are not happy with the situation, but some were not surprised when we told them the reasons given what happened in 2014.”

A Post Office Ltd spokeswoman said: “We would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused by the temporary closure of Stobhillgate Post Office following withdrawal of premises for post office use on July 4.

“We would like to reassure customers that we are working hard to restore the service to the community as soon as possible and are committed to maintaining services in the area.”