PROPOSALS to move Fareham’s post office into a WHSmith store have come under strong criticism from councillors.
They labelled the plans to move the branch in Fareham’s West Street into the top floor of the shop as ‘inadequate’ and highlighted the detrimental effect that the plans will have on disabled customers.
This is a core service that is going to be seriously affectedCouncillor Shaun Cunningham
The Post Office revealed its plans last month, before holding a consultation which expired on Wednesday.
Councillors Shaun Cunningham and Sean Woodward have rejected the consultation as ‘meaningless’ and have called for the post office to stay in its current location.
Cllr Cunningham said: ‘This is a core service that is going to be seriously affected.
‘I’m just not convinced a post office that is not on the ground floor is going to be to of aid to all customers.
‘The consultation did not really provide much information and they should have extended it.
‘How will people of all disabilities be able to access it?’
The Post Office has said customers could use a lift to access the floor and that a designated till point on the ground floor could be put in place for customers who are disabled or have mobility problems but Cllr Cunningham was not convinced.
He said: ‘Residents deserve a good service. If a ground till is put in place, how will a blind person use it if it’s not manned?’
Cllr Woodward added: ‘We don’t want to see the branch close down. It’s a busy branch and the plans to move it into WHSmith are inadequate.
‘There needs to be other options in place.’
He added that if the Post Office followed through on its proposals for the site and if it was released by the Crown, then the site should be earmarked for housing.
Cllr Woodward said: ‘It’s a prime site for housing, as it is right in the town centre, a brownfield site. It will be perfect for flats.’
The proposed move would take place next March.
A spokeswoman for the Post Office said: ‘We take access for all our customers, including disabled people and customers, very seriously.
‘The new branch would offer the same services as the existing one, would be more cost-effective and therefore the branch is more sustainable into the future, safeguarding services for our customers.’