Council leader fumes as Fareham post office branch move would see rent paid on two units

A COUNCIL leader has accused the Post Office of '˜a scandalous waste of public money' over its proposed branch move in Fareham.

Monday, 16th January 2017, 6:00 am

The Post Office wants to close the base in West Street and move into the upstairs WHSmith in the Savoy Buildings.

But Fareham Borough Council leader Councillor Sean Woodward revealed that if the branch is moved, the Post Office will be paying for both units as it does not own the lease on their current home.

This was confirmed following a meeting between the councillor and Stuart Taylor, head of external relations at the Post Office, who said that there are no break clauses or agreement to sub-let the unit with the landlord.

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Cllr Woodward, pictured, said: ‘It’s an utterly scandalous waste of public money.

‘What a crazy suggestion it is for them to move out but to still be paying rent on the unit for the next six years.’

He added that he has written to the manager of the branch to urge the Post Office to delay any move for the next five years and that to move at this stage would be the ‘worst case scenario’.

A previous letter from the council to the Post Office said that a move to WHSmith’s first floor would be ‘both an actual and perceived worsening of internal access arrangements for customers and therefore the local community’.

To access the floor, customers would use a lift but a designated till point on the ground floor could also be put in place.

A public consultation on the proposals ended in December and the Post Office says a decision on the move, which would happen in March, is yet to be made.

A spokeswoman for the Post Office said: ‘We believe our proposal represents the best way to ensure continued provision of Post Office services in Fareham in the long-term.

‘A final decision has not yet been made on the proposal to relocate Fareham Post Office to WHSmith.

‘We will carefully consider all feedback received during consultation before making a final decision on the proposals.’